Are Pressure Groups good or bad for democracy?


Hugh Summers
Mind Map by Hugh Summers, updated more than 1 year ago
Hugh Summers
Created by Hugh Summers about 8 years ago

Resource summary

Are Pressure Groups good or bad for democracy?
  1. Good
    1. Participation
      1. Channel of opinion between elections
        1. Allows involvement on more local issues
          1. Single issues which cannot be covered by 'catch all' parties
          2. Low turnout of 33.8% Midterms shows disengagement with political process
            1. Bring cases to the courts
              1. Amicus Curaie Briefings
                1. Plaintiff v Clapper
                  1. Amnersty v Clapper (2013)
          3. Education
            1. Awareness of key issues
              1. Improve knowledge of the electorate
                1. Provide specialist knowledge for the government
                  1. "Education from pressure groups makes people better aware of policy problems and proposed solutions"
                    1. Pressure group Branches of government educates on the federalist system
                    2. Agenda building
                      1. Set the agenda in the legislative/executive
                        1. Propose ideas/influence policy
                          1. Influence of Cue cards
                            1. Democrats often adhere to voting cards from ACLU
                        2. Program Monitoring
                          1. Scrutinice the work of the government
                            1. Hold government to account
                              1. Protection of rights/group interests
                                1. Bring cases to the courts - District of Columbia v Heller
                                  1. NOW - Weeks v Southern Bell
                              2. Representation
                                1. Minorities - NAACP/NOW
                                  1. Represent the diverse views - heterogonous nature of US electorate
                                    1. Keep politicians in touch with the needs of the people
                                  2. Bad
                                    1. Domination of special interest groups
                                      1. Power lies with the few 'elitist' groups - "The US is governed by a small elite"
                                        1. Mills theory
                                        2. The largest cooperations hold the most power
                                          1. Most influential sector is "Finance, insurance and real estate" with an expenditure of over 46 million in the last 12 year
                                            1. Multiple access points allow pressure groups access to all levels of government
                                              1. Honest Leadership and Open government Act, 2007 has led to some regulation although limited in the long term
                                                1. Since the two year 'cooling off' period lobbying is now stronger than ever
                                                  1. The energy industry spent more than $721 million on lobbying in the recent midterms
                                                2. Iron traingles
                                                  1. Relates to the "iron" - cosy relationship that exists between agencies, congressional committees and pressure groups
                                                    1. AIPAC, the defence department and the foreign relations committee
                                                      1. Military complex
                                                        1. No concept of national interest but rather the focus on larger defence expenditures
                                                          1. Agricultural groups dominate despite makes up 2% of Americans
                                                          2. Interests with such insider relations have constant access to the decision making process unreachable by most pressure groups
                                                          3. Undemocratic methods
                                                            1. Direct action
                                                              1. Civil disobedience
                                                                1. John Crow sit ins
                                                                  1. Occupy Wall street movement
                                                                2. Million man march
                                                                  1. Attempt to shut down abortion clinics
                                                                3. Lobbying
                                                                  1. K Street Corridor
                                                                    1. Duberstein Group
                                                                      1. Raegan's ex Chief of Staff
                                                                    2. Allows pressure groups to gain access to key Congressmen/Committees which could potentially provide insider influence into the decision making process
                                                                      1. Ex-Senator Chriss Dodd is now in Motion Picture Association of America
                                                                        1. Ex Senator Abraham
                                                                          1. Revolving Door syndrome
                                                                            1. The idea that ex-Pentagon members leave the political arena and venture into the lobbying industry with significant connections
                                                                              1. Aldridge confirmed the propsal of 20 new Lockheed Martin planes before leaving for the Lockheed Martin board under Bush
                                                                                1. Clientelism
                                                                              2. Power is vested in Washington Elite
                                                                                1. Corruption
                                                                          2. Jonothan Rauch describes the lobbying industry as 'parasitical'
                                                                            1. Wealthy pressure groups spend excessive amounts on professional lobbyists
                                                                              1. NRA spent $4.4 million lobbying Congress in 2012
                                                                                1. Fuel industry spent $500 million on lobbying in the 2014 midterms
                                                                                  1. Money
                                                                                    1. Money yields victory as opposed to the cause
                                                                                      1. Raises the image o the pressure group
                                                                                        1. Campaign
                                                                                          1. AARO mounted a TV campaign against Bush's proposals on social Security
                                                                                            1. America for Prosperity ran ads against Obamacare in 2014
                                                                                            2. Advertisements
                                                                                              1. Endorsements
                                                                                              2. NARAL (pro choice) annual budget of 1.1 million
                                                                                                1. National RIght to Life
                                                                                                  1. Annual budget of over 9 million
                                                                                                  2. Lack of countervailing groups makes pressure groups undemocratic
                                                                                                    1. Interest groups are unfairly represented
                                                                                                      1. NRA annual budget of 250 million
                                                                                                        1. NRA v Handgun Control - 4.3 million v 28,000
                                                                                                          1. Allows groups led by money to dominate
                                                                                                      2. Deregulation of soft money since the Citizens United ruling/Speech NOW v FEC has made pressure groups ever more prominent
                                                                                                        1. Pressure groups can donate on behalf of candidates
                                                                                                          1. 2012 - $547 million was spent on PACs, 78% spent opposing candidates
                                                                                                            1. 80% of donations goes to incumbunts who have 90% chance of re-election
                                                                                                              1. National Association of Realtors donated 3.8 million to federal candidates
                                                                                                              2. 20% of PAC donations go to chairpersons
                                                                                                              3. David Camp - Pac receipt of 3 million, successful re-elected Congressman
                                                                                                            2. Endorsements/Donations
                                                                                                              1. NRA endorsed Mitt Romney
                                                                                                                1. Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney spent $66 million on ads against Romney in 2012
                                                                                                                2. NAARAL endorsed Obama in 2012
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