chapter  5
Interest Groups in Campaigns
Pages 22

From grade school on, Americans are encouraged to participate in political life lest government become unresponsive to the will of the people. Such activities as writing one’s member of Congress, joining an interest group, and signing a petition are presented as virtues, and citizens are encouraged to participate in elections as a vital source of democracy. However, when interest groups become involved in elections, it raises a larger worry. When groups help mobilize their volunteers and money, it is seen as good-up to a point-but, when groups provide a lot of support to candidates, and especially when they give a lot of money, it is widely seen as a danger. The concern, of course, is that those who give a lot may get back a lot. Maintaining the integrity of government means that we must somehow balance the need to staff and fund campaigns, the desire to have people actively involved in elections, and the obligation to keep government from being unduly influenced by those with the most money to contribute.