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Advocacy groups are one of the best ways for concerned Americans to get involved in the political process. The goal of these groups, also known as lobby groups or special interest groups, is to organize activists, establish goals for policy, and influence lawmakers.
While some advocacy groups get a bad rap for their ties to powerful interests, others are more grassroots in nature, mobilizing ordinary citizens who otherwise might not have an impact on the political process. Advocacy groups conduct polls and research, provide policy briefings, coordinate media campaigns, and lobby local, state, and federal representatives about key issues.
The following are some of the key conservative political advocacy groups:01of 10
The American Conservative Union (ACU)
Founded in 1964, ACU is one of the first groups established to advocate for conservative issues. They are also the host of the Conservative Political Action Conference, which each year sets the conservative agenda for those lobbying Washington. As stated on their website, ACU's primary concerns are liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and a strong national defense.
American Family Association (AFA)
The AFA is primarily concerned with strengthening the moral foundations of American culture by adhering to biblical principles in all aspects of life. As champions of Christian activism, they lobby for policies and actions that strengthen traditional families, that hold all life sacred, and that act as stewards of faith and morality.03of 10
Americans For Prosperity
This advocacy group mobilizes the power of ordinary citizens to affect change in Washington. At last count, it had more than 3.2 million members. Its mission is primarily fiscal: to ensure greater prosperity for all Americans by petitioning for lower taxes and less government regulation.
As stated on their website, Citizens United is an organization dedicated to restoring citizen control of the government. Through a combination of education, advocacy, and grassroots organization, they seek to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security. Their ultimate goal is to restore the Founding Fathers' vision of a free nation, guided by the honesty, common sense, and good will of its citizens.05of 10
The Conservative Caucus
The Conservative Caucus was founded in 1974 to mobilize grassroots citizen activism. It is pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage, opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. It also favors abolishing the income tax and replacing it with a low-revenue tariff.06of 10
Founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, Eagle Forum uses grassroots political activism to build a stronger, better educated America through traditional family values. It advocates for American sovereignty and identity, the primacy of the Constitution as law, and ongoing parental involvement in their children's education. Its efforts were key in the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, and it continues to oppose the infiltration of what it calls radical feminism into traditional American life.
Family Research Council (FRC)
The FRC envisions a culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives. To that end, according to its website, the FRC
"… champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."08of 10
Founded by lawyer Larry Klayman in 2004 (Klayman is also the founder of Judicial Watch), Freedom Watch is concerned with protecting freedoms including privacy rights, free speech, and civil liberties. The group states on its website that it also seeks Americans'
"freedom from foreign oil and crooked business, labor and government officials, to protecting our national sovereignty against the incompetent, terrorist state-controlled United Nations, and reestablishing the rule of law in what has become a very corrupt American legal system."09of 10
With its motto "Government fails, freedom works," this advocacy group has been fighting for individual liberty, free markets, and a Constitution-based limited government since 1984. It operates as both a think tank that publishes papers and reports as well as a grassroots organization that puts ordinary concerned citizens in touch with beltway insiders.10of 10
The Heritage Foundation
Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation touts itself as the country's "largest, most broadly supported" conservative think tank with more than a half-million dues-paying members. Its mission, according to its website, is to promote "Free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."