Groups and Interests
All Californian’s are represented by interest groups, whether we know it or not. Some Califorians have no idea that these interest groups even exist, I know that I had no idea until reading this chapter. Rather I didn’t consider that these organization were part of the system in that way. County and city governments, trade associations. labor unions, professional and religious organizations, educational institutions and environmental groups.(pg. 48) There is so much debate about the influence of interest groups in the political arena, especially about rather the theories of pluralism or elitism best explain their status and power in the political process.
The diversity of interest groups means that interest groups are inclusive, because at the end of the day, the only ones who win are businesses and organizations. The little people are the ones that get stuck paying in the end. California secretary of state classifies interest groups into nineteen categories and indicates the amount spent by each category for lobbying during a two year legislative session. This is when many states will state their literature and on their websites this is also considered lobbying or advocacy, it is a major part of their activity. Individual businesses and educational institutions, however, rarely identify lobbying as one of their activities.
In California over the last two decades, the number of interest groups and lobbying expenditures has grown steadily. In 1990, lobbyist represented approximately 1,300 interest groups; in 2000, the number had nearly doubled to 2,552, and now in 2018, there is more than 23,000 interest groups in America today9(pg. 48). I can only imagine how many interest groups there will be in the decades to come. California also has a lot of weak parties for a variety of reason, but largely because of Progressive reforms of the 1910s. The reforms were directed at the spoils system in government, the control of the political parties over which candidates would represent the party in general elections, and the influence of interest groups in the legislature. In order to balance these influences, the Progressive reforms granted voters the direct democracy practices of initiative, referendum and recall.(pg. 50) I California today politics are interest groups. And we also have to remember as Californians’ al interest groups are not the same and have the same power as higher ranking interest groups.