The Influence Of Political Interest Groups

939 words - 4 pages

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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