Table of Contents
Interest groups are present in many democracies in the international system. They actively participate in the political scene and lobby for certain causes. Today, there are many interest groups in the US and their proliferation has been the cause for concern. One of the reasons that have been cited for the proliferation of the interest groups is because of the numerous cleavages and differences in opinion. The constitution has provided many avenues through which these interest groups can contact the legislators and the executive and help in altering or shaping their thoughts concerning certain policy issues. Even though the proliferation of interest groups in the US has been a cause for concern, the rise of these groups has empowered many constituencies and has contributed to the changing nature of policy formulation.
In any pluralistic society such as the US, knowledgeable use of influence to effect social change through policymaking is critical and of the essence. The American society is today confronted with many issues that demand the attention of the legislators and the executive. Healthcare, immigration, gun control, and other key policy issues have increased the participation of interest groups in the US. The politicians in Washington have had to bear the brunt of the interest groups have they try to influence the politicians to take a stance on fundamental policy issues. Smith (234-239) provides certain assumptions and generalizations that might explain the proliferation of interest groups in the US.
One of the reasons why there has been the proliferation of interest groups in the US is the increased contact between the legislators and the lobbyists. Smith (236) states that in 1957, the Wisconsin legislature voted in favor of the amendment to the Bill 333A after an initiative to consult the bankers in their districts. The legislators had little concern for the interest of the public, but considered the views of the lobbyists. Smith (236) observes that fact that the legislators seek out the lobbyists in an indication of the predisposition of the policy-makers to view the interest groups as salient, and valued. These interactions also give the interest groups legitimacy. The idea that interest groups are seen to have legitimacy and important players in policymaking has led to their proliferation.
Berry (30-41) gives a historical perspective on the rise of interest groups in the US and underscores that the proliferation of the citizen groups has been occasioned by the establishment of policy frameworks by the liberals and conservatives. Both groups have different political agendas and policies that they seek to pursue. As a consequence, the left and the right wings have cropped up several interest groups with the aim of pushing for policy formulation or legislative agendas that favor their course. Berry (35) argues that interest groups have altered the dynamics of policy formulation to the extent that the Congress or other state legislative houses have to consider the views and demands of the citizen groups.
Although the proliferation of the citizen groups in the US has been a cause for concern for many Americans, the rise of these groups has empowered many constituencies and has contributed to the changing nature of policy formulation. The proliferation of interest groups in the US has been blamed on the increased contact between the legislators and the lobbyists. The liberal and the conservatives have also promoted the emergence of interest groups as a consequence of promoting the agendas of different factions.
- Berry, Jeffrey M. “Citizen Groups and the Changing Nature of Interest Group Politics in
- America.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 528, Citizens, Protest, and Democracy (Jul., 1993), pp. 30-41.
- Smith, Virginia W. “How interest groups influence legislators.” Social Work, Vol. 24, No. 3 (MAY 1979), pp. 234-239.