THE CONTROL of government in a country such as the United States seems very remote to the average individual. Since there are several million citizens who share the sovereignty, one man seems about as important and as powerful as a grain of sand on the ocean beach. Under such circumstances, individuals who want to influence the government find it necessary to associate with other persons who will support the same program. Only by co-operation and organization can they make their influence felt and obtain a voice in the government. Such co-operation and organization may take the form of a political party that nominates and tries to elect government officials, or of pressure groups that try to influence officials elected by the parties. Political parties are likely to be larger in membership and more general in interests than pressure groups. Parties are the organizations that work the machinery of government. It is inevitable that they should exist in a democracy, because the people are too numerous and too much occupied with the general concerns of life to choose the policies and the leaders they favor without the functioning of some such organization as the political party.
Nevertheless, parties are organs of public opinion of comparatively recent development. In the eighteenth century there was as yet no general realization that political parties were certain to develop in a democracy. Men spoke of "factions" as subversive of order and the public welfare. The propertied class who wrote the American Constitution had no conception of the vital
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Publication information: Book title: Public Opinion in a Democracy:A Study in American Politics. Contributors: Charles W. Smith Jr. - Author. Publisher: Prentice-Hall. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 120.
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