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Interest Groups

An interest group is an organization of people with shared policy goal that seeks to maintain policies and programs that benefit them. Examples include: the National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Association of Retired Persons(AARP), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Interest groups can have a big impact on the political process. There are three theories of interest group politics. These theories have varying effects on the political process. The first theory is Pluralism. Pluralism means each group pushes for its own preferred policies. There are many centers of power and many diverse, competing groups. Groups in the pluralism theory provide the key link between the people and their government. The second theory is elitism. As part of the Elitism theory, societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule. This means the largest corporations will hold the most power. This has a negative effect because the few benefit at the expense of the many. The final theory of interest group politics is hyperpluralism which is when interest groups are so strong that the government is weakened because it tries to serve every interest. When the government tries to please all the groups, the policies become confusing and contradictory. The most ideal interest group theory is pluralism. A wide open government would lead to more interest groups and will force groups to compete and counterbalance each other. More groups means more lobbyists. Lobbyists are very active in the political process. They provide information, help politicians plan political strategies for legislation and reelection campaigns and even provide ideas and innovations that can be turned into policies that the politician can take credit for. By producing more lobbyists, interest groups have the potential to create a better democracy.

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