Are interest groups good or bad for American democracy?

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Interest groups can be useful in bringing attention to an issue or focusing resources on solving a single problem, but they have been used in the United States in ways that are more often bad than good for American democracy.

For example, interest groups tend to focus on one single issue to the exclusion of all else, such as fighting gun control at all costs or refusing to condone any tax increases under any circumstances. This can distort the democratic process. For example, small groups of people who come out and vote in a primary can ensure that the candidate who backs their issue will be the candidate running for office for either the Republican or Democratic Party in their district. This candidate may support a certain popular issue but in many other ways not reflect the broad desires of his or her constituents—and yet he may be elected on the basis of a single issue.

Being the candidate of a special interest group can also tie the hands of a political office holder once he is...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1107 words.)

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