Discuss the significance of the media, interest groups, political parties and voting behavior in the American political process.
Interest groups are defined by Berry as an organized body of individuals who share goals and try to influence public policy (Berry 1989). The American political process is characterised as being driven by money and because of the huge amount of finance given to politicians to shape their course of action, interest groups are often blamed for this. Decisions are made not according to the voting public, but to the financial incentive promised to so many elected officials by lobbyists, corporations and dominant interest groups. The question being addressed here is if the democratic political process has been overshadowed by the power which interest groups wield. I will talk of the nature of the American political system and how, because of its composition, interest groups are an integral part of the organism (Heidenheimer, 1970). I will show how because of the nature of the system, they are necessary and at times innocuous, before discussing the corruption that has taken place and how severe the situation has become. Defining this corruption is a difficult thing because there is such an array of perspectives on it but “it is clear that corruption involves conduct that violates some set of 'reasonable standards'” (Johnston 1982 p4). Arnold Heidenheimer understood this difficulty in defining corruption but talked of three cases: betrayal of or deviation from common interest in favor of special interests that provide direct benefits to government officials; deviation from law or norm of public trust; and use of authority or monopoly to maximize personal gains from dispensing public benefits to selected recipients (Heidenheimer 1970).
Interest groups share a common set of objectives and have joined together in an effort to persuade the government, often by forming relationships with members of the administration, Congress and civil servants. There are tens of thousands of interest groups, but that is not to say that all interests are represented fully and equally. “The political desk is heavily stacked in favour of those interests able to organize and to wield substantial economic, social and institutional resources” (Lowi and Ginsberg, 2000). The framers were aware of the potential hegemony that organized interests could enjoy, but at the same time strongly believed in freedom of expression, so a dilemma arose of how to balance power ...