Peter H. Schuck


In James Madison's seminal Federalist #10, he famously warned against faction, which he regarded as the greatest scourge of democratic government. Two centuries later, the terminology is different but its normative resonance remains the same. Rather than employ the now-quaint word "faction," modem commentators are more likely to speak of special interests, vested interests, lobbies, pressure groups, and (in certain cases and with particular scorn) single-issue groups. In the spirit of Madison, however, these commentators almost always use these newer terms as pejoratives, hurling them as political epithets so as to discredit them in the public eye. The thundering jeremiad against special interests (as I shall usually call them here) is among the oldest, most common, and most successful techniques in the long history of democratic political rhetoric. Its practitioners remain in full throat today.

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