How The Religious Right And Special Interest Groups Are Eroding American Democracy.

2261 words - 9 pages

Anyone who has analysed the political process of the US has noted the presence of interest groups and the influence they wield in shaping public policy. Whether they are political parties, large social movements or single-issue activists, these groups all maintain a degree of political clout in influencing their elected representatives in government. Interest groups by definition are typically made up of a collective of like-minded individuals whose motives are primarily rooted in effecting change within the policies of their respective societies. Yet whilst interest groups are an important aspect of the political system, and indeed fundamental to a functioning democracy, the current political climate has exposed some of the more influential interest groups as greedy, extremist and ultimately dangerous to the progressive nature of democratic politics. Gun lobbyists and the religious right have permeated the US Republican Party to a point that its very existence is largely dependent on the support of these groups. For example, for years leading corporations on Wall Street have lobbied for greater market deregulation, resulting in the US economy's current predicament, a situation not seen since the Great Depression. The influence of right-winged conservatives is worrisome as it greatly affects the ability of the US political system to effectively and adequately represent the American people. To prove this, this paper shall analyse the relationship between the US government and interest groups in three distinct ways. First, it will be seen that the rise of the religious right and its influence in shaping public policy has the adverse effect of potentially suppressing the freedoms of the citizenry. Secondly, it will be shown that interests groups such as the National Rifle Association, with its innumerable resources, have lobbied to oppose gun control, even in light of several tragic school shootings in the past decade. Lastly, it will be demonstrated that the influential powers of these interests groups have led to an increase in political apathy within the US, rendering the idea of a representative democracy all but redundant.The Republican Party, just like any political party in the world, is commonly tied down with certain stereotypes. These stereotypes, such as the seemingly-rabid opposition to issues such as abortion rights, stem from its strong association with fundamental religious (Christian) groups. The Founding Fathers of the US Constitution set out to explicitly separate the church and the state, as exemplified by the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment. But the relationship between church and state is hardly non-secular. The phrase "In God We Trust" is printed onto American currency, and Presidents are sworn into office on a bible in the presence of clergy (Wald 1992, p.129). Kohut et al. argue that even though the Constitution clearly calls for a separation, no such separation exists between religion and politics (2000, p.1)....

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