Citizens in American democracy have many channels for the expression of political voice, one among them being organized interest politics in Washington. But the representation of citizen preferences and needs in organized interest politics is neither universal nor representative. That is, not all voices speak equally loudly in organized advocacy politics and systematic processes operate to influence which voices are amplified by a megaphone and which ones speak in a whisper. The result is pronounced inequalities of political voice. In this chapter, we draw upon the Washington Representatives Study, an extensive database covering the period from 1981 to 2011, to examine how the growth and changing composition of the pressure system have affected the extent to which it is representative of the American public.1 We find that, for all the diversity among the thousands of organizations active in Washington, the free-rider problem and the resource-constraint problem have a profound impact on political input from organizations. Policymakers hear much more from advocates for narrow interests than from supporters of broad public interests and much more from those with deep pockets than from the less affluent.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||The Organization Ecology of Interest Communities|
|Subtitle of host publication||Assessment and Agenda|
|Editors||David Lowery, Darren Halpin, Virginia Gray|
|Number of pages||25|
|State||Published - 2015|
|Name||Interest Groups, Advocacy and Democracy Series|