Pluralism

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American Pluralism In Federalist No. 10, James Madison stresses that “measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.” Madison philosophized that a large republic, composed of numerous factions capable of competing with each other and the majority must exist in order to avoid tyranny of majority rule.# When Federalist No. 10 was published, the concept of pluralism was not widely used. However, the political theory that is the foundation for United States government was the influential force behind pluralism and its doctrines. Pluralism comes from the political system that focuses on shared power among interest groups and competing factions.# A pluralistic society contains groups that have varying interests and backgrounds, including those of ethnic, religious, and political nature.# Differences like these are to be encouraged, with overall political and economic power being maintained. When a number of people, all sharing a common interest are threatened, a group is involuntarily formed in order to defend against competing interests. These pluralistic interest groups are free to operate and lobby in the political arena, fighting against the majority and other competing factions for voice in Congress. With the influence of multiple factions operating throughout the political system, a balance of power is created (Kernell 2000, 429). This is much like the international theory of sovereign states balancing each other’s power to create a political system that focuses on stability, yet is always in a constant flux of power. With this in mind, special interest groups are constantly contending for power by raising money, campaigning, and lobbying in Congress. When a special interest group is threatened by a competing policy, the group will organize efforts to balance, or transcend the power of the competing group. The pluralistic scholar David Truman notes that “the proliferation of political interest groups [is] a natural and largely benign consequence of economic development” (Kernell 2000, 429). That is, as American economic development increases, in the form of industry, trade, and technology, factions are produced in order to protect special interests. Factions have a large platform on which to find support from various political parties, committees, subcommittees, and the courts, as well as federal, state, and local governments (Kernell 2000, 429).
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