Do Pressure Groups groups in the USA promote democracy and widen opportunity?

Taken from Edecxel Exam Paper June 2011

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Pressure groups in the USA promote democracy and widen opportunity ­ June 2011 (45)
Essay Plan
Define pluralism: The political theory believed by Robert A. Dahr that suggests power is equally distributed
across society with equal opportunity in the free market of ideas. Dahr believes that Pressure Groups are a
fundamental part of pluralism which helps to make the USA a democratic state.
Define elitism: The idea that power is concentrated amongst a few elite at the top of society. C Wright Mills
suggests that the clear wealth disparity in the USA allows for inevitable inequalities in society, leaving the
majority with limited opportunity to gain power. Pressure groups are thought to encourage this because it is
only the concentrated power of the PG leaders, not the members.
Define elite pluralism: Pluralism is not achievable in today's modern society, but it is not entirely elitist
because there is choice. Selecting from a strained market, which is still democratic because there is still some
Allow the exercise of fundamental rights
o Protected by the 1st Amendment
Freedom of speech
The right to petition the government for the redress of grievances
Freedom of association
o This proves that they are essential to democracy and therefore allow power distribution to be spread
out among society, a key idea of pluralism
o This means that they widen opportunity for people to exercise their democratic right
Allow underrepresented minority groups to have a voice
o Leading to true representation
o Lack of representation by other political means
0% AA
2% Hispanic
2% Asian American
10% AA
6% Hispanic
2% Asian American
o Pressure groups allow those who miss out on formal political equality, a chance to influence the
executive my alternative means, therefore they must be pluralist and hence essential for democracy.
Prevent a single elite from dominating in society (Democratic function)
o The provide a method of scrutiny on the executive which is constant
o They disperse power
o There are lots of groups/voices which makes the USA better democratically
o (KEY centre of pluralism)
o Representation
Of the minority
Brown vs. Board 1954
Roe vs. Wade (abortion) 1976
Lawrence vs. Texas (Gay Rights) 2003
Provide essential info to both Congress and the Electorate
o Strengthening the accountability lines between the two, and allowing democratic scrutiny
o Assists the SC in amicus cure briefs to aid minority representation
Regulation controls corruption/campaign finance
o Darleen Druyun

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Revolving door syndrome has declined
Druyun was caught out!
o Iron Triangles/Revolving Door Syndrome have declined since the
Veterans affairs
Defence Industry
Government cannot scrutinise them for national security reasons
Campaign Finance
o Erosion of the laws
Citizens United vs.…read more


Ahmed Gokal

Fantastic resource, thanks!

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