Chapter 11 Essay and Discussion
Groups and Interests
In chapter 11 of We The People (Ginsberg, et.al.) we discuss interest groups and how they affect the American Government. Interest groups are protected by the first amendment; freedom to assemble. They are an organized group of people that make policy-appeals to the government (Ginsberg, et.al.). Many Americans support interest groups, for the various benefits they offer. Interest groups influence politicians, but amongst the most successful groups are those with financial gain and not always in the interest of the public.
There are many interest groups, and this creates competition for government support. James Madison said in The Federalist Papers “Take in a greater variety of parties and interests and you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have common motive to invade the rights of other citizens…Hence the advantage enjoyed by a large over a small republic” (Ginsberg, et.al.). In other words, interest groups would need to unite in a common cause in order to become a real threat to the government or the public.
Private interest groups lobby in Washington to exert pressure on politicians in order to make changes in legislation. Lobbying involves providing politicians with information about important issues, supporting them and in some cases threatening retaliation. We The People used an example of this in chapter 11 when they discussed labor unions. Labor unions although not as powerful and some other interest groups, they have influence at the voting polls. Politicians know that these are key groups they cannot ignore because they offer political if not financial support.
Interest groups have been successful in making changes in laws that affect our everyday lives. For example, “consumer activist Ralph Nadar established a network of consumer advocacy groups…” that successfully lobbied for “mandatory airbags in cars” (Ginsberg, et. al.). Another example would be the organization of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). This group has successfully lobbied for changes in laws that are meant to prevent fatalities caused by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. They are responsible for the seatbelt law, sobriety checks, prohibiting drivers from driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 % or higher, vehicular manslaughter laws that hold a driver responsible in the event that they kill someone unintentionally or intentionally while driving under the influence, social host laws that prohibits adults from providing alcohol to people under the age of 21, etc., (MADD.org). Fatalities caused by drunk driving has been reduced by half since the MADD was formed (MADD.org).
Interest groups are an important part of our democracy because it allows citizens to participate in the political process to create changes in laws and influence our government. Although groups with financial gain are often more successful it is important to remember that voting can influence politicians as well. As Madison observed groups that are united in a common cause are more likely to be successful. Unification amongst the American people will be the key to enact any real change in government.
We The People, (Ginsberg, et.al.) 2017.
Retrieved from https://www.madd.org/laws/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (2019).