Answer to Question #30476 in Other Economics for cathleen anderson
Decide if our system is truly democratic based on your assessment of the level of voter participation.
Do interest groups play a healthy role in American politics? How do they reflect the basic values of our American political culture?
Interest groups are one important mechanism through which citizens in the United States make their ideas, needs, and views known to elected officials. Citizens can usually find an interest group that focuses on their concerns, no matter how specialized they may be. Directories of American voluntary associations reveal the incredible variety of reasons why citizens band together. The Gale Research, Inc., Encyclopedia of Associations is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive lists. Not all of these groups are politically active, but a great many try to influence public policy.
Both the formal structure and the informal traditions of American politics provide fertile ground for interest groups. One feature of the American system that enhances their influence is the relative weakness of U.S. political parties, which stems, in part, from the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. In a parliamentary system such as Great Britain, where the prime minister's hold on office depends on majority support in Parliament, parties exert considerable control over legislators and, as a consequence, over policy making. In contrast, elections of the U.S. president and Congress are politically separate events, even when held at the same time. Each legislator must construct a winning coalition in his or her state or district, and the nature of these coalitions is quite different from the majority coalition that the successful presidential candidate assembles. Clear evidence for this is the fact that Congress and the presidency have been in the control of opposing parties most of the time since World War II. As a consequence, neither Democrats nor Republicans are invariably bound to support the positions of their party's president or their party's electoral platform. Weak party loyalty enhances interest-group influence, both during elections, when their financial support can be critical, and afterwards, when groups that supported the winning candidate become closely involved in policy making.
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