By Joe Albanese
The way the term “special interests” is used in practice suggests that it’s simply shorthand for “bad thing my opponent supports.” After all, depending on one’s views, “special interests” may encompass big business or big labor, fossil fuel or green energy companies, and single-issue and ideological groups like the Club for Growth or EMILY’s List.
In fact, one can fairly say that all of those groups are “special interests.” And that’s okay.
“Special interests” – or the more fitting term, advocacy groups – simplify democracy rather than subvert it. Most Americans don’t have the time or ability to analyze legislation, organize grassroots activity, or follow the ins and outs of the political process. Advocacy groups bridge the gap between citizens and government. They communicate their members’ views to public officials and inform the public of important political developments. For every advocacy group with one viewpoint, there is almost certainly another one making the opposite case. Some groups you’ll support, and others you’ll oppose, but they all contribute to the exchange of ideas that makes democracy work.