Pressure groups of the USA: critical impact

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  • Impact of pressure groups
    • Pluralist perspective
      • Interest groups serve to increase political participation
      • PG activity ensures that national & state governments stay in touch with public opinion, as well as providing a valuable source of expertise.
      • Interest groups ensure that minority views are heard & hence prevent 'tyranny of the majority'
      • Technological developments such as the internet make interest group politics more accessible than ever before.
    • Elitist perspective
      • Influence is limited to those groups with large memberships, effective lobbyists, effective lawyers & considerable wealth.
      • The 2001 Energy Task Force, headed by Dick Cheney, was dominated by commercial interests - only 1 meeting was held with environmental organisations,as opposed to over 40 meetings with large oil companies.
      • Interest group contributions to elections enhance the idea that politicians are for sale & increase they cynicism about the political system in general
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    • Right Wing perspective criticising PGs
      • Through their unions, public-school teachers have been able to dictate their own terms & conditions & restrict the introduction of school voucher schemes that would serve to promote competition & drive up standards.
      • PGs have managed to secure tax advantages & government subsidies for their members at the cost of the nation's economic performance & other tax payers.
    • Demosclerosis perspective that PGs restrict all government activity
      • It has become virtually impossible to get good-quality, independent advice, since everyone is linked to a PG - this has therefore led to poorer government.
      • Entrenched interests have led to stalemate & political stagnation: this can clearly be seen with the failure of Hilary Clinton's healthcare reforms & of George W. Bush's immigration & welfare reforms.


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