Since the early 1980s, no charge has been pressed so relentlessly—and effectively—against the Democratic party and the American left as that of being captive to “special interests.” Like other buzzwords—choice, family, opportunity, and (most recently) “politically correct” —the phrase “special interest” can be used seriously as a neutral and descriptive term or, as is usually the case, as a rhetorical device, to defeat, bypass, or enflame rather than to argue or explain.
Of course there are special interests—I will list some varieties shortly. In a democracy it is both inevitable and desirable that groups and associations further particular policies or interests. The only alternative is totalitarian dictatorship. But some interests are more “special” than others....
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