Organized groups provide critical channels for Texans to communicate their political interests to and attempt to influence government and their fellow citizens. The popular tendency to reduce interest group activities to the negative stereotypes of narrow special interests and carnivorous lobbyists is in large part a by-product of the dynamics discussed in section 4: narrow interests with abundant financial resources that seek private goods have inherent advantages in presenting their case before government bodies and in the public arena, especially the mass media. These advantages are particularly strong in Texas as a result of the weak regulation of campaign financing and the organization of the state legislature.
Despite the often negative image of interest groups, thousands of Texans participate in interest group politics, shaping public policy and the public debate at all levels of the state's political system. Though well-heeled groups may be more effective at gaining influence than groups with very limited resources, section 6 shows that all groups who want to press their causes in the state's political system have a range of powerful tools available to them. Political scientists and historians have spent many years and spilled much ink debating how best to characterize the nature of interest group competition in Texas. Two conclusions are clear: you have many opportunities to get involved with a group or groups, and any groups you join have many ways by which to attempt to influence policy.