Interest groups are a powerful force in the policy-making process, sending representatives to state capitals and Washington, D. C. to influence legislation and policy decisions. These representatives can testify at congressional hearings, contact government officials directly or informally, present research results and technical information, talk to people in the press and media, and even help draft laws.
For example, when Congress was debating the issue of discrimination in private clubs, representatives of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts appeared at the hearings to try to persuade Congress to allow each of them to remain a single-sex organization. This is just one example of how lobbying and advocacy groups can shape policy decisions. In addition, decision makers often act as funders, guiding research towards issues that are more applicable to anticipated and relevant policy and practical decisions. In such cases, decision makers become advocates who use evidence to demonstrate their support or opposition to a political decision.
This process not only absolves academics from the responsibility of advocating, but it also provides an opportunity for an indirect activist to participate in commitments that promote evidence-informed decision making (EIDM).
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