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The Iron Triangle, Essay Example

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Essay

The Iron Triangle is a term that refers to the political and economic connections in particular that exists between the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and private lobbying groups meant to raise funding toward political agendas. These private organizations can span from groups meant simply to support legislation, to the large Super PAC organizations, such as Karl Rove’s “Crossroads”, that can virtually make the difference in presidential elections. As a whole, the Iron Triangle is a paradox; though in many ways the relationship is necessary for the American system, as a whole it fosters overly partisan politics, proliferates the unhealthy two-party system, and works to undermine the system of checks and balances the founding fathers intended (Johnson, 2013).

Without the existence of lobbyist groups as a whole, it would be very difficult to bridge the disconnect from the average American to Washington politics. Many of the concerns of Americans from all walks of life may be ignored if these lobbyist groups were not allowed to provide their own funding toward legislation, and, by and large, the candidates they believe will provide the support their causes require.

The major problem with these lobbyist groups, or Super PAC’s, is the amount of money they can potentially raise to back a client. A perfect example is the phenomenal example American Crossroads raised for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Rove, a former member of the inner-circle of the Bush administration, tipped the campaign financing scale towards the GOP in a huge way. This allowed for more commercial advertising and everything that goes with it. The fact that a man like Rove is legally able to run a Super PAC such as American Crossroads is where the proverbial line needs to be drawn. This illustrates partisan politics inherent in this system. A man like Rove, who has been involved in Republican campaigns for decades, was clearly not creating American Crossroads to push across policy, but instead to ensure a Republican President–with a dangerously partisan Congress in addition.

Simply because the United States is a democracy does not mean there has to be only two major parties–in fact, this is not the case with most contemporary democracies. The Iron Triangle forces groups to take one side or the other because of the overwhelming majority that either support one of the two major parties. This system is undermining democracy if anything, allowing most Americans a more narrow voice–filtered through really two main channels, proliferated by current lobbyist policies.

The biggest problem with the Iron Triangle is that it really does undermine the system of checks and balances intended by the founding fathers.  The original triangle that served to work interdependently was the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judicial system. By introducing a fourth player, it is extremely hard for the Court to create any landmark decision–as President Andrew Jackson put it best, “[Chief Justice] John Marshall made his decision, now let him try to enforce it”.

The Court can make any decision they want to make, but without the support of the other two branches, preoccupied with re-election proliferated by the system of the Iron Triangle, nothing will ever be enforced–these powers are left to a Congress and Presidency overly-influenced by the wealthiest of Americans.

Resources

Johnson, Paul M. “The Iron Triangle.” N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

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