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The Influence of Corporate Special Interest Groups on American Political Process
There are various reasons why corporate special interest groups have worked to enhance a strong influence on the American political process. This essay outlines the three major reasons why these interest groups have the upper hand in the political process in contemporary American society. These are organized bodies of individuals sharing the same goals and aspirations and through this strength; they try to influence policies irrespective of who is in power.
This is a mechanism used by an individual in a group through which their views, needs, and ideologies can be voiced and heard to the larger society. Most of these groups are not even active politically but are influenced forces of most public policies. Some of the corporate groups are said to be specialized, but their voices are listened to by elected people. In most cases, the citizens have a way of identifying with groups, which focus on their basic concerns thus making it possible for their collective bargains being looked into.
To begin with, both the formal and informal American structures are fertile grounds for interest groups due to the old traditions, which die-hard. The weak United States of America political party’s system allows and encourages the corporate interest groups’ influence to thrive; this is due to the existing separation of power between the executive and the legislative arms of the government. This is in contrast with to parliamentary system where prime ministers hold to office depends on the majority vote hence getting the upper hand in policymaking.
There are various reasons why these groups voluntarily come together and in this context; one, is to belong to the political outfit of the moment, which they feel their interests are catered for. Secondly, most of these groups are not even politically active, but in the long run, tend to influence policymakers’ decisions. None of these groups transform to the political outfit though and they're behind the scenes activities turn to the limelight when political campaigns kick off in the US.
The elections in the US for the president and congress are politically separate irrespective of whether they are held at the same time or one by one. Individual legislators look for a winning formula in their respective states or districts through the formation of coalitions, which they assemble the most popular candidate, a person who can articulate their needs to the larger American society. Since the Second World War, Congress and the presidency have been controlling opposing parties most of the time. As a result, neither the Democrats nor Republicans wield the full mandate of controlling their party presidential electoral platforms.
This weak party loyalty gives the corporate special interest groups a chance to influence the system through financial support and when their candidates win, they are closely in making policies. Therefore, the term in power becomes the payback time for those who supported a certain candidate during the election period. Given that once a politician always a politician, diverting from the group after being elected becomes almost impossible since they cycle and vote-seeking takes only four years.
Secondly, the US political power structure allows these interest groups in decentralizing political powers to individual states under the federal system. This leads to a lack of party discipline making them weaker while the grass-root special interest groups become powerful spreading across the fifty states. When these corporate interest groups are let loose, they eventually weaken the political systems and taking control of the social decision making through proxies; the politician.
On the other hand, the independence of the American judiciary empowers these interest groups by not having a clear cut way to tame their powers. The interest groups usually take advantage of this loophole and use litigation to achieve their personal policy interests, which they cannot naturally gain through legislative means. If these laws were amended, the scenario would turn against the groups making them less powerful than they currently are.
Last but not least, the immense and unlimited freedom of press, speech, and association vested on the American citizenry gets transferred to these interest groupings and their point of view is seen as a law. Some of the groups might be termed as radical, a fact, which is overshadowed by the powers they are perceived to possess. The centralization of the media after the Second World War tried to give the groups lesser exposure. The media focus initially was on labor unions due to the huge following they then commanded.
The open and unlimited access to the internet has changed existing structures; thus, empowering the groups more. The free American speech freedom has been taken to a higher level due to the increased opportunities to express the existing problems in the society. The internet has been taken over by these interest groups in influencing public policies, which has turned out to be the bait towards the formation of more complex and stronger groupings.
It is important to note that the original interest groups were basically agricultural groups and since the number of farmers in the US has declined over the years, business people have taken over since they control most of the American economy. This has been made stronger by the emergence of professional associations who also have bigger bargaining power in modern society.
Money is also a very huge contributor to the thriving and influence of these groups; this though stem from pursuing the American dream. Through membership fees and voluntary contributions, the immense financial strength is usually translated into funding most of the political campaigns. This coupled with the passing of information through the internet; decisions are made fast taping on large populations with online access.
Therefore, it is justifiable to conclude that it is healthy for any democratic society to give its citizenry the freedom to seek alternative means to mobilize resources when they perceive an individual violation of their rights and interests by the political elite. The most important resources given to the American citizens are the voting ability, freedom of speech, assembly and a befitting judicial process, which fit well with the modern-day political process.
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