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The Rise of Political Action CommitteesInterest Group Electioneering and the Transformation of American Politics$
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Emily J. Charnock

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190075514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190075514.001.0001

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When Business Is Not “Businesslike”

When Business Is Not “Businesslike”

(p.197) 7 When Business Is Not “Businesslike”
The Rise of Political Action Committees

Emily J. Charnock

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the initial resistance to the PAC concept within the business community and among conservatives more generally in the 1940s and 1950s. Though major business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and United States Chamber of Commerce had not entirely ignored elections to this point, they concentrated their energies following World War II on lobbying and publicity campaigns promoting “free enterprise,” while criticizing labor and liberal PACs as coercive, collectivist, and antidemocratic. They also placed faith in the “conservative coalition” of Republicans and Southern Democrats to protect their interests, reflecting their strong belief that both parties should and could promote business aims. As fears grew that labor had successfully “infiltrated” the Democratic Party, however, conservative activists urged business groups to be “businesslike” and respond to labor electioneering in kind. Business leaders thus began to contemplate a partisan electoral counterstrategy centered on the Republican Party.

Keywords:   interest groups, business, PACs, election campaign, conservatism, Republican Party, lobbying, free enterprise, publicity, NAM

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