Impact of Interest Groups on American Elections
Indeed, it was James Madison in Federalist 10 that said that factions are groups that unite to serve selfish goals, not the national interest. It is necessary to control them through constitutional means, one of which is the creation of a large republic, which helps disperse factions and to reduce their influence on the national legislature. Madison in his paper is warning the contractures of the constitution that factions are the ultimate rival of the government. They will try to force upon government their own ideals instead of the more important issues of national interest.
However, according to David B. Truman it is impossible to define what national interest is. To different people national interest or issues mean different things. Truman said that there is no "national interest" apart from the interests of pressure groups. Pressure groups provide the necessary linkage between people and government, and by pursuing their own interests these groups define the national interest. The ultimate question that Truman raises is who decides what the national interest is and what it should be? If there were a lack of interest groups pushing their own interest, then who would decide what issues to discuss? The elected legislative branch members would have the power to push which ever ideas they feel fit, which uncovers another major problem. How will the elected members distinct the national interest from their own? More importantly once the distinction is made will the members act in the national interest or their own.
Nevertheless, both political philosophers are too extreme in their argument. Madison misses the point that although factions, which are potentially dangerous, can give the government the information and direction it needs for its continuous voyage. Truman argument is meager because although interest groups can be the voice of the people, history shows us that the voice commonly heard