Special-Interest Politics

Archive Report

Spread of Pressure Groups

New Era of Single-Cause Factionalism

The first amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But that venerable precept had the unintended side-effect in later years of opening the door to pressure politics, which today is more visible and probably more extensive than ever. From Alaska lands to zero population growth, every conceivable issue has attracted competing special-interest groups, and across the country they have become a potent force in the political system.

Their ranks include rich and powerful Capitol Hill lobbies, along with many grass-roots coalitions whose power lies in numbers and determination. The goals these groups espouse are diverse and, from their point of view, their causes just. But there is ...

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