The Legislative Struggle: A Study in Social Combat

By Bertram M. Gross | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
THE PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS: REFORMING THEIR METHODS

IF THE process of group combat is so central to "guarding the guardians," clearly its procedures and practices are vital to the preservation of a democratic legislative system. The behavior of private groups and organizations, therefore, has been of particular interest to those who would either preserve or change these procedures and practices. Generally their interest has been grounded upon a fear of the growing power of Big Business, Big Labor, the Farm Lobby, and other groups. It has been nurtured by the realization that every group has specialized interests of its own and cannot be depended upon to use its power in behalf of other groups or, to use a term which usually serves as a method of referring to the interests of a particular congeries of groups, the "general welfare."

The specific proposals that have been advanced concerning private organizations may be divided into three groups. The first deals with certain aspects of their legislative campaigning activities. The second deals with the question of whether they should be given a more formal status within government itself. The third deals with the dangers inherent in group conflict and various admonitions to the effect that private organizations should either vanish from the scene or behave themselves.


THEIR CAMPAIGNING ACTIVITIES

The campaigning activities of private organizations are extremely extensive. They include the organization of group support, the application of pressure, the dissemination of propaganda, and all the arts of leadership that are needed to make these elements effective. The major proposals thus far presented deal with the existence of financial bonds between private organizations and government officials, contributions to the campaign funds of candidates for Congress and the Presidency, the activities of lobbyists, and the control of the major channels of communication.

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