The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion

By David B. Truman | Go to book overview

16
Group Politics and Representative
Democracy

"GROUP organization," said the late Robert Luce, momentarily dropping his usually cautious phrasing, "is one of the perils of the times."1 The scholarly Yankee legislator's opinion has been echoed and re-echoed, sometimes in qualified and sometimes in categorical terms, by an impressive number of journalists, academicians, and politicians. The common themes running through most of these treatments are: alarm at the rapid multiplication of organized groups; an explicit or, more frequently, an implicit suggestion that the institutions of government have no alternative but passive submission to specialized group demands; and an admonition that the stability or continuance of democracy depends upon a spontaneous, self-imposed restraint in advancing group demands. Thus we are told that "there is no escape from the pressure of organized power...," that the pitiful plight of American government is that "there is nothing it can do to protect itself from pressures...," and that unless these groups "face the kind of world they are living in..." it will be only a matter of time "until somebody comes riding in on a white horse."2

____________________
1
Luce: Legislative Assemblies, p. 421.
2
These three quotations, taken somewhat unfairly from their contexts, are, respectively, from Harvey Fergusson: People and Power ( New York: William Morrow & Company, 1947), p. 101; J. H. Spigelman: "The Protection of Society," Harper's Magazine ( July, 1946), p. 6; and Stuart Chase: Democracy Under Pressure: Special Interests vs. the Public Welfare ( New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, 1945), p. 8. Cf. Robert C. Angell: The Integration of American Society ( New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1941); Brady: Business as a System of Power; and John Maurice Clark: Alternative to Serfdom ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1948).

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