Analyse the Claim That Pressure Groups in America ‘Damage Rather Than Enhance Democracy'

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It is not debated that pressure groups have a legitimate role in American government due to the rights placed in the constitution; however, many people believe that they damage democracy and have too much power. It is accepted that inevitably people will seek opportunities to advance their own interests and consequently the number of pressure groups has grown considerably in the 1960's and 1970's. Many members of the general public might concede that the interest groups offer some advantages but do not like their ever growing influence.

There are many advantages of interest groups which is why the government has only tried to regulate them in the past instead of out ruling them altogether. Interest groups provide representation which helps make the government more responsive. Although America has elected officials, America is such a huge country that they can not adequately represent all the interests in the diverse society. Therefore interest groups represent the views and opinions of their members and communicate these to the political decision makers. Interest groups also provide legislators with specialist information. Although congressmen have their own staff to provide information, interest groups can offer detailed or technical knowledge that they would otherwise lack. However there is a suggestion that the usefulness of interest groups as information sources has declined over the years and that congressmen are increasingly uncertain about which groups have credibility and deserve attention. Interest groups also provide a stepping stone between the government and the public as there is considerable hostility towards the decision makers in Washington.

Although there is a clear argument that pressure groups enhance democracy, there are many arguments that they actually damage. One of the main arguments is that interest groups as a whole are unrepresentative of the public as the groups which have the main influence are large businesses and...
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