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What are some positive and negative aspects of the role of interest groups in democratic politics?

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The positive aspect of the influence or role of special interest groups in democratic political systems is the opportunity such groups or organizations provide in influencing governmental policies when those groups' perspectives might otherwise not be heard. In a country as geographically expansive and heavily populated as the United States, and as diverse in terms of ethnicities, political orientations, professions, cultures, and so on, the ability of any one individual to make a difference at the national or even state or local level would be very limited. The seat of the federal government, of course, is in Washington, D.C., on the eastern coast of the United States. Individuals or groups in, say, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, or even locations much closer to the nation's capital would have a very difficult time being heard in the halls of Congress or in the Executive Branch if they did not unite and form what are pejoratively called "special interest groups." In fact, so central is the...

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