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Consider whether the activities of pressure groups help or hinder the operation of a pluralist democracy in the United States

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Pressure groups are an important tool in a pluralist democracy. Through pressure groups, ordinary members of the public may engage freely with the political process on a single issue or many different causes, without being tied to a particular political party whose views on many issues they may not necessarily agree with. In the case of the United States, some people argue that it is through pressure groups, such as the NAACP, that change has happened in society. By bringing issues, such as the unfair discrimination of black people, to the fore, pressure groups can influence decision makers at all levels of government. According to Wikipedia, pluralism "holds that political power in society does not lie with the electorate but is distributed among a wide number of groups". This means, in effect, that a pluralist society is one in which the electorate are heavily active in politics through groups such as political parties or pressure groups and, of course, through voting. ...read more.


Success of pressure groups in the United States depends on their strength and their strength depends on the amount of money they have at their disposal. The NRA had a total income of $205.4 million in 2004. It then successfully opposed renewal of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994, which then expired on September 13, 2004. This, though, presents disadvantages of pressure groups, arguments for the idea that they hinder the operations of a pluralist democracy. All it would take to ensure a pressure group was successful in its campaign, even if they only represented a minority of the public, would be a handful of millionaire backers pumping money into the campaign. On the other hand, though, there is evidence to suggest that an abundance of money is not a guarantee of victory. Mitt Romney, who was running for the Republican presidential candidacy amassed $88.5 million by the end of 2007, yet pulled out of the race in February 2008 having not won enough support. ...read more.


Most of this would have been soft money (money not given directly to a candidate and which does not blatantly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, mainly by 527 groups who are not regulated by the Federal Electoral Commission) rather than hard money (regulated donations to candidates' campaigns). There is no doubt that pressure groups offer a good alternative to political parties when it comes to allowing the public to engage in politics. The fact that in the United States members of Congress don't vote along party lines too often means that they are open to persuasion from pressure groups and popular support. The problem is that the two aren't always linked. A pressure group may not always have popular support and in such cases hinders the operation of a pluralist democracy in the United States. However, I would say that the majority of successful pressure groups flourish because they have both popular support and money - meaning that members of Congress can count on both campaign finance and votes at election time. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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