Reflect on interest groups and democracy. Discuss whether interest groups magnify the power of individuals to influence government and public policy or if they are used as a tool to exclude “regular people” in favor of wealthy elites. Also discuss whether changing the present election system so that it runs on limited public financing, via tax dollars, instead of contributions from interest groups and wealthy donors, would make the system more democratic and open.
In responding to your classmates, discuss if such a policy violates the free speech rights of interest groups and their members.
For your response posts (2), you must do the following:
classmates Post #1:
Interest Groups can be considered the Fans, of the two major parties in politics. When looking for a team to root for. Here enters the Interest groups working from the bottom-up helping to educate voters, raise money, and increase awareness. In fact, the political parties of countries with multiparty systems look a lot like the interest groups of the United States. These groups make large donations of time, and resources to the parties. They try to influence the direction and decision making of parties. They try to recruit the best players to run as candidates under party banners. Nonetheless, they are not the parties, and they must rely on parties and candidates to win the game. (Evans & Michaud, 2019) I believe that there are groups of (regular) people that are not always spoken for, yet there are Interest groups focused on some of those groups like the N.A.A.C.P.
I don’t think changing the Election system to public financing will make it more democratic. Interest groups have been particularly useful to campaigns through their financial sponsorship of political advertising. On television, radio, and the internet, interest groups broadcast the virtues of some candidates and lambast the faults of others. (Evans & Michaud, 2019) I believe we need that funding to learn about all the candidates and what they stand for. I am one of those people that does not follow politics, and every person running in every election. I will not lie, some of those ads have helped me with past voting decisions.
Evans, J., & Michaud, K. (2019). Central ideas in American government (9th ed.). Asheville, NC: Soomo Learning. Available from http://www.webtexts.com
classmates Post #2:
I am going to admit that before reading chapter 13 in Central Ideas In American Government I had a different idea in my mind of what interest groups were about. I believed that they were the “bad guy” and a useless part of politics and I am one who does her research but I never went in depth in trying to learn what interest groups are and what their objective in politics consists of. Well I have been enlightened. An interest group is a group of individuals that share a common interest that seek to influence government and public policy. They “provide political representation to members of society who share similar interests” (Evans & Michaud, 2019). They attempt this by direct influence through lobbying or indirect influence over policy through election activities. A misconception that I had about interest groups, and one that many others do as well, was that they attempt to buy the votes of members of Congress through campaign contributions when in fact they only focus on candidates that already support their cause, so they are not buying off someone that was not on their side to begin with. Essentially what an interest groups contributions are buying is access to politicians so that their causes can be heard one on one. An example of that would be the NRA, an interest group, contributing to the campaign of a Republican who is a staunch supporter of gun right. Interest groups are there to provide meaningful information to politicians on behalf of their constituents.
I do believe interest groups exclude “regular people,” but only to an extent. There are many interest groups that represent people in the lower socioeconomic sector. There is the United Farm Workers of America that represents the men and women who pick crops, Planned parenthood represents individuals with low income and no insurance, the Children Defense Fund and so on. It’s true that the majority of lobbyists are hired by private interest because they have the resources, especially monetary, and that can be a disadvantage for the public interest groups who may not have the same resources. Yet there is still representation and there are members in Congress that look out for the interest of their lower socioeconomic constituents. Interest groups do play a big role in our democracy when it comes to policy change and they will continue to do so as long as the government doesn’t put any restrictions on their contributions and lobbying. Using tax dollars to finance an election instead of interest group contributions can be seen as a more democratic move but I would personally not want my tax money going to a candidate that I oppose.
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