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Political Parties and Special Interest Groups are the two biggest types of organizations that influence the creation of new laws. We will talk about the similarities and the differences between the two groups.

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In each of the States of the Union, when it comes to politics and political influence, meaning who makes the laws, what laws get made, and why, it usually boils down to two different types of organizations to influence the legislators of their state to create laws and change their direction, among other things. These two types of organizations are the political parties and the special interest groups that are present in each state. So, what are the similarities in function between both of these politics-based organizations, and what are their differences? Also, could interest groups within each state possibly ever replace the political party system in each state?

For starters, both of these two types of political organizations that try to influence the types of laws that get passed, and the votes made by the legislators themselves, are considered to be ‘linkage institutions,’ that is, institutions that allow the voting public, or general public, to be able to influence their politicians, getting them to vote one way or another, or create one set of laws over another.

The purpose of political parties is to (1) allow the public to have alternative policy choices for which they could choose, (2) use their abilities to help inform people of their party’s position and why they should vote for that party, (3) recruit new people to run as candidates for their party, (4) help organize a good campaign to get their candidates elected, (5) hold those elected for their party platform responsible for getting their policies passed into law, and (6) help organize the legislators that were elected into their party’s platform to help ensure more power for their party and its policy platform (p. 140).

Interest groups serve a similar purpose within the realm of politics, although there are some differences between them and the political party. To begin with, political parties try to acquire more power by recruiting candidates, campaigning to get them elected, and organizing them to maximize their power while serving in the legislature (points 3, 4, and 6 in previous paragraph); interest groups try to influence those people who are already in power instead of trying to acquire power. Political parties may try to recruit candidates to win an election for their party, and help try to get them elected; interest groups are more concerned with trying to get their policy position passed into law, which may mean supporting one party’s candidates over another party’s candidates during an election campaign. Another important difference is that a political party tries to organize, group together, a majority of people together to create a governing power that works for that majority; an interest group seems to work on behalf of some minority group to help achieve policies that work on their behalf.

In both cases, the people who join a political party, or support an interest group, do so because they think that by joining with other people in that organization, other people who have beliefs or interests in common with themselves, they can be more able to get a government, and its policies, that are in line with those same beliefs or interests, than they could possibly get done by going it alone.

So, could interest groups ever replace political party system within each state? Probably not. Why? Political parties, like said earlier, try to gather a consensus of people based on the widest possible demographic as possible. Although they may be labeled either right or left or conservative or liberal, they tend to try to have a certain stand, or policy position, on as many issues as possible. Interest groups try to gather a group of people with the same narrow interest, thus not trying to get as many issues into their policy stand as possible, like political parties, but narrowing it down to, usually, a single issue, or a small group of issues. Because of this, it could be argued that there will always be a place for trying to gather a wide consensus on a multitude of issues, and there will always be a place for a group of people who want to focus on a single issue – in other words, interest groups will most likely never replace political parties, but they will continue to work side-by-side, at least into the foreseeable future. At least until some cataclysmic event forces people to realize that government would be best run by some type of technocrat system with economists, sociologists, and other people with proper education and credentials running the governmental system, and controlling its policies, where the technocrats running the show get their positions through a merit-based system rather than who is better looking, gives better sound bites, and runs a better campaign.

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So, to sum this all up – political parties and interest groups are different based on how wide of interests their organization works with, and interest groups, because of their narrower range of interests, won’t likely replace political parties. There is a place for both types of organizations, working side-by-side.