I am a special interest group. OK, OK, a very small group, but only if you ignore the bulge around my middle. But a special interest group, nonetheless. As a matter of fact, I’m several special interest groups walking around on only one set of legs.
How can this be? You might ask that very question, and I hope you do ask, because if you don’t, this will be a remarkably short piece of prose.
First of all look at the phrase “special interest group”. We hear it used all the time by politicians and political wannabees to describe evil, greedy, selfish, short-sighted people who oppose whatever it is that they are trying to sell. Believe it or not, that’s all it takes to be a special interest group. If you don’t support the speaker’s position on the cause du jour, you are, by this definition, part of the evil, selfish (etc., etc., etc.) special interest group that needs to be run out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered, or at least told to sit down and shut up.
To the politician, a special interest group is any group, or even an individual, who is opposed to them giving special treatment to any one, or any group, who has promised either their votes or the promise of funding for their next election campaign.
For a Liberal / Progressive / Democrat, for instance, anyone who is pro-life is part of a special interest group, while if you fall on the pro-choice side of the debate, you are an intelligent, concerned citizen. Not part of a heinous, anti-democratic, anti-women, Neanderthal-like special interest cabal.
For an L/P/D, if you are in favor of limiting government interference in gun ownership for the purpose of self defense, you are obviously part of a special interest group. If the National Brotherhood of Indicted Criminals supports limitations on gun ownership, they certainly aren’t a special interest group. They’re just admirable citizens who are concerned with the potential misuse of firearms.
With this in mind, it appears that a special interest group is not a group that has a particular interest in gaining favors from the government. It is a group of people who are interested in restraining politicians from dispensing their ( or to be honest, our ) money to those whose only sterling quality, at least in the mind of the politician, is that they will vote for said politician.
I realize that sounds counter-intuitive, but every politician has misused the phrase since it was created.
If, for instance, large numbers of citizens were opposed to the existence of the Department of Education because they believed that the department regularly encourages the distortion of American history, and wastes billions of tax dollars to facilitate lowering of educational standards, and the continuing misrepresentation of capitalism, religion, liberty and freedom and a host of other issues, they would be automatically be considered a special interest group.
On the other hand, teachers unions, demanding monopoly authority over all education in the country, with freedom to “teach” as they alone see fit, free from any local school board or parental or citizen oversight, along with substantial salaries which are not related to or dependent on the successful education of their students, are never, ever considered a “special interest.” They are just the self-sacrificing and noble bearers of the tremendous burden of instructing our children. A special interest? Please, don’t be insulting.
In essence, a special interest appears to be anyone who demands that the government do what it has said it was going to do for over 220 years. How dare they!
These citizens believe that the Bill of Rights, written in plain English, means what it says. They point out that the Constitution says a citizen has the right to bear arms. They have the unbridled temerity to insist that the government honor the plain language of the amendment. That is when the L/P/Ds charge them with not only a special interest group, but a dangerous special interest group.
L/P/Ds seem compelled to do everything to excess, including overusing the term “special interest group.” Anyone who disagrees with them is apparently a member in good standing of a special interest group. Of course if the L/P/Ds can’t identify the person who is critical of their latest giveaway program with a specific organized group, then they downgrade the critic from special interest to merely being racist or homophobic.
Considering what they are defining as special interest group these days, it appears that rather than feeling tainted and defensive by the accusation of belonging to a “special interest group”, it should rather be viewed as a badge of honor and a matter of pride.
After all, isn’t it really a recognition by your opponents that while your interests might be special, those interest are not automatically self-serving.