Q1.) An interest group is a voluntary association of people who share a similar set of political and policy objectives. The goal of interest groups is to influence public policy in favor of their common interests. There are economic interest groups, public interest groups, and government interest groups. Economic interest groups focus on economic interests. The largest and most influential subcategory that falls under economic interest groups are business groups. Business groups push for policies that favor their industries. Labor groups advocate for the workers they are representing. Farm groups also fall under economic groups and advocate for farmers. Public interest groups advocate for collective interests that they might not even be a member of. Civil rights, social welfare, education, and the environment are just some examples of what public interest groups might advocate for. Many are considered single-issue groups because they only focus on one specific area of public policy. Government interest groups focus on advocating on behalf of the state, regional, local, or foreign government in order to keep members informed on discussions and the regulatory process.
Lobbying is one of the tactics interest groups use to influence public policy. Lobbying is where interest groups interact with government officials to push the goals of that interest group. Inside lobbying depends on relationships, access to the decision maker, and financial resources, which many do not have. An iron triangle is the tie between congressional committees, the bureaucracy, and interest groups. A grass-roots campaign is another tactic interest groups use. This is where policy is influenced by listening to its constituents and using that to appeal to the public in order to gain support. A political action committee is another tactic. This is where an organization raises money to influence an election or legislation in the interest group’s favor. Litigation is another tactic of interest groups. Interest groups might get involved with the courts and hire an attorney or legal team in a case if it favors their interests. They do this to push their goals and to gain attention from Congress and the executive branch.
Q2.) Harold Laski is credited with the birth of pluralism in the 1920s. Montesquieu’s theory of corps intermediaires is considered a historic source from which modern pluralism was born out of. In the Greek polis and early absolute monarchies had pluralism or what would be closely related to it. Individual rights were first recognized because of religion. The right people had to practice whatever religion they wanted, even if it was different from the ruler. This established separation between society and state. This led to the birth of pluralism, specifically in politics.
de Tocqueville believed that civil society should be a separate sphere that is regulated by civil code. He supported what we would call interest groups today because he thought if civilians came together for a common purpose, then it would steer society away from selfishness. He believed equality in politics could only be achieved if rights were given to everybody or nobody. de Tocqueville feared ‘the tyranny of the majority.’
Montesquieu’s belief was that there was the sovereign government and the administrative. The administrative had a legislative branch, executive branch, and the judicial branch. These powers were to be balanced, but dependent on one another like they are today. With his idea, the three estates structure of the French Monarchy would no longer be needed.
Madison, like de Tocqueville thought that a non-tyrannical republic implies that a different outcome could come about with popular government. Madison wanted a republic where citizens could elect those to advocate for them. Madison’s major problem was with factious majorities, where democracy did not step in to help.
Montesquieu’s pluralism differed from that of de Tocqueville. Montesquieu’s pluralism was during the time of the monarchy in order to contain the power, while de Tocqueville reacted to the French Revolution. Laski and Bentley both differ from Montesquieu and de Tocqueville not because their writings come from the peak of the capitalist and industrial revolution of the 20th century.
Bentley’s pluralism (analytic pluralism) was system that did not consist of people in person or institutions, but in masses of activity, according to Contemporary Pluralism. Truman aimed to show that group politics and system stability can be compatible like groups and democracy, according to Contemporary Pluralism. Laski (normative pluralism) did not see the group as an “abstract entity” but a society with an ethos of its own moral unity and a historical memory according to the same reading, Contemporary Pluralism.
Q3.) Madison suggests that factions (interest groups) are dangerous, but can also be necessary. He claimed that it is in our nature to find individuals of similar thoughts and beliefs, so it is unavoidable. Madison feared factions could be dangerous if their ideals were negative. He did not want to ban the public from forming political parties, but instead wanted a republic where individuals elected representatives to advocate on their behalf. Madison stated that factions could be prevented by eliminating liberties or creating perfect harmony, both of which are unattainable. Instead, the government must control the outcomes/effects of these factions. Madison’s dilemma is whether to overturn the ability to join self-interest groups or to maintain political rights. The solution is for the government to control the effects of these self-interest groups and set boundaries on what they can and cannot do, but not infringing upon their political rights.


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