<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

How do these observations translate into the way different interests are represented in the political system? Some pluralist    scholars like David Truman suggest that people naturally join groups and that there will be a great deal of competition for access to decision-makers.

David B. Truman 1951. The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion . New York: Knopf.
Scholars who subscribe to this pluralist view assume this competition among diverse interests is good for democracy. Political theorist Robert Dahl argued that “all active and legitimate groups had the potential to make themselves heard.”
Dahl, Robert A. 1956. A Preface to Democratic Theory . Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Dahl, Robert A. 1961. Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
In many ways, this is an optimistic assessment of representation in the United States.

However, not all scholars accept the premise that mobilization is natural and that all groups have the potential for access to decision-makers. The elite critique    suggests that certain interests, typically businesses and the wealthy, are advantaged and that policies more often reflect their wishes than anyone else’s. Political scientist E. E. Schattschneider noted that “the flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upperclass accent.”

E. E. Schattschneider. 1960. The Semisovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America . New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 35.
A number of scholars have suggested that businesses and other wealthy interests are often overrepresented before government, and that poorer interests are at a comparative disadvantage.
W. G. Domhoff. 2009. Who rules America? Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall; K. L. Schlozman, “What Accent the Heavenly choir? Political Equality and the American Pressure System,” Journal of Politics 46, No. 2 (1984) 1006–1032; K. L. Schlozman, S. Verba, and H. E. Brady. 2012. The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
For example, as we’ve seen, wealthy corporate interests have the means to hire in-house lobbyists or high-priced contract lobbyists to represent them. They can also afford to make financial contributions to politicians, which at least may grant them access. The ability to overcome collective action problems is not equally distributed across groups; as Mancur Olson noted, small groups and those with economic advantages were better off in this regard.
Olson, Jr., The Logic of Collective Action .
Disadvantaged interests face many challenges including shortages of resources, time, and skills.

A study of almost eighteen hundred policy decisions made over a twenty-year period revealed that the interests of the wealthy have much greater influence on the government than those of average citizens. The approval or disapproval of proposed policy changes by average voters had relatively little effect on whether the changes took place. When wealthy voters disapproved of a particular policy, it almost never was enacted. When wealthy voters favored a particular policy, the odds of the policy proposal’s passing increased to more than 50 percent.

Kevin Drum, “Nobody Cares What You Think Unless You’re Rich,” Mother Jones , 8 April 2014, http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/nobody-cares-what-you-think-unless-youre-rich.
Indeed, the preferences of those in the top 10 percent of the population in terms of income had an impact fifteen times greater than those of average income. In terms of the effect of interest groups on policy, Gilens and Page found that business interest groups had twice the influence of public interest groups.
Larry Bartels, “Rich People Rule!” Washington Post , 8 April 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/08/rich-people-rule.

Questions & Answers

what's the difference between a Senate house and the parliament
Irene Reply
wat is decentralization
Irene Reply
Good question? its another way of emphasizing locality as a first principle value. assumed is self suffiency, sustainability, redundancy in critical systems but most of all it represents an individual citizens liberty; our rights, a dependence from and freedom from centralized power.
Lance
tnx
Irene
it's also assumed that this freedom is critical to our ability and advantages to be resilient. our full capacity to adapt w out any headwinds or yoke from an over reaching central world power as found in empires and dynasties or for example global neoliberalism virus.
Lance
Well said Lance! It's easy to forget how decentralized our government is. Local people have skin in the game.
Micah
Is it possible for a serious third party to emerge in the United States, positioned ideologically between the Democrats on the left and the Republicans on the right? Why or why not?
Richard Reply
Yes it's possible, but with the two-party system not likely. Here is why: when you have a strong right wing and a strong left wing the results you actually get are closer to the center. In fact, the point of having two parties is to keep the argument going and produce these centrist results.
Micah
meaning of civil service
Omohowho Reply
create the most between the competing value of indivualism and limited government
Dora Reply
civil liberties basic freedoms while civil rights are basic right to free from discrimination based on characteristics of race, disability, color national origin, gender, and other..
Sexy Reply
yes I think so
Omohowho
what is the categories of federalism
Official Reply
hi
Austin
yh
Irene
what is racism
Favour Reply
international political economy
Diana Reply
I'm not sure what this app is again, I'm over worked, tired, alone and I have a slight cold. my neighbor jumped me and sucker punched me yesterday, and today I'm trying to keep the tooth that took the hit. My exwife is in jail, her trailer impounded, and the dogs are @ The City Pound. 😢😥😴
Shannon
you sure it's a cold 😷 not covid 19
Don
well I think the Real Truth About COVID-19 Is... Alchohol, the info and numbers all line up. AA has infiltrated the US Government. And Since I'm Getting into Recovery for Drugs and I'm No longer an Alcoholic, it's a conspiracy to keep me from using Alchohol to aid in my Drug Recovery. But ....
Shannon
let's just keep this between us. ;) No Ask No Tell, OK?
Shannon
I know nothing but here's a little secret from a recovering alcoholic/addict once an alcoholic always an alcoholic you can treat the symptoms but never be cured I wish you the best of luck tho my friend if you ever need someone to help you through a rough spot let me know
Don
Ya shuts this is coming to me from an government app you'll help me right dawn on to my face and then laugh at me and say you bring it all on your self I'll be sure to call on you when I need help like to 200.00 a month and can't work the help you already give me shure thing
Luretta
what's are the features,merits and demerits of power
Emmanuela Reply
the most loyal supporters of democrats are
Paulina Reply
the intent to push polls is to
Ivan Reply
I cannot seem to find a clear answer to why the house is stronger than the senate, and every guess I make the check answer says is wrong.
girunit Reply
What is foreign policy
WONDERS Reply
What is government
WONDERS
What is a supreme court
WONDERS
Who is a solicitor
WONDERS
Three majors the National Liberation council adopted to transfer powers to the civilian government
Boateng
What is bureaucracy
WONDERS Reply

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play




Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'American government' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask