Show MoreInterest Groups and Political Parties
The “advocacy explosion” in the United States in the 20th century has been caused by the extreme increase in the number of interest groups in the United States. The general public views the increase and the groups themselves as a cancer that has come to the body of American politics and is spreading. The explosion in the number of interest groups and interest group members and finances has had an effect on the decline of the American political party and partisanship, the effect on democracy and the public interest, and the bias that has come with interest group competition.
The advocacy explosion is strongly linked to the decline of the American political party and the role of the…show more content…
Berry points out that “The independence of American legislators from their party is aided and abetted by interest groups” (Berry, 49). The party will support a candidate in the election, in the vast majority of cases, regardless of how they vote on most issues. Interest groups have the option of not supporting the candidate or supporting them to a lesser degree. This option allows for the interest group to wield power over the candidate.
Almost the entire point of an interest group is to gain influence over governmental officials and political goods. Steven Schier in his book By Invitation Only points out that interest groups use activation strategies in order to help them accomplish three goals “(1) getting and keeping members, (2) employing grassroots pressure upon officials, and (3) convincing the public of the worthiness of group causes” (Schier, 156). These three methods of activation contribute to the decline of political parties. Getting and keeping members takes money that could be used for political parties and gives it to the interest groups. Although the interest groups give some of the money back to the parties in the form of soft money contributions the vast majority is used to press other interest group ideas. The use of grassroots pressure upon officials by interest groups allows for the cause of the interest group to take precedence over the cause of the party. Politicians want to be re-elected. If official feel that the public has a
The Influence Of Political Interest Groups
Political interest groups have had a profound influence over important governmental decisions throughout the history of the United States. James Madison believed that everyone is self-interested; therefore, interest groups are an assemblage of individuals who share the same self-interest acting together to obtain goals beyond individual reach in complex societies. These interest groups are highly organized factions that have a certain agenda that is important to them. In order to ensure their agenda is protected, these groups will often lobby various levels of government, have new laws or regulations instituted that will aid their agenda, or argue against possible laws, codes, or regulations that might harm their interests of agendas. There are citizens who firmly believe that a plethora of interest groups is good for democracy; however, some people believe that interest groups are slowly eroding democracy, are only interested in personal gain, and should be limited in number.
In the United States, there are roughly 300 million self-interested people governed by less than six-hundred representatives. With the general populace greatly outnumbering the representatives elected, not every individual self-interested person’s view on the world can be heard through the general democratic process; therefore, people with similar self-interests bond together to create interests groups to let their voices and opinions be heard. With the general population being that large, there are bound to be many interest groups “that are, and should be, free to compete for influence in the government because the outcome of this competition leads to compromise and moderation” (Ginsberg 17).
In Daniel Pinello’s, America’s Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage, interest groups were trying to influence the government to vote for or against legalizing same-sex marriage. With many different competing interest groups, the way to achieve democratic success is to find a middle ground, a compromise. Groups for the equality of gay marriage, such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Basic Rights Oregon, had to compromise with the groups opposing it, such as the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) and the Massachusetts Catholic Coalition (MCC), because otherwise the government would achieve nothing. Before the Massachusetts decision, the establishment of legal civil unions was that compromise. These unions gave all the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples without blemishing the establishment of marriage, but these unions were not inherently equal. Civil unions only gives equal rights at state level and exempts someone from federal benefits, such as inheriting social security after your spouse dies. Massachusetts was the first to agree that civil unions were unacceptable because they were unequal in name, but only because multiple interest groups were bonded together. With competing interest groups,...
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