Perhaps the clearest answer offered was … by Mr. Bane … there is no public interest in the sense of being an interest of the whole public. There are only particular interests…. The panel did not accept this solution, and Mr. Bane did not defend it.
… Mr. Larsen asked whether it was not true that the means of obtaining the objectives, rather than the objectives themselves, was the issue…. Perhaps the process, the means of compromise and agreement, are themselves a large part of the public interest.
—Major Economic Groups and National Policy, The American Round Table, Digest Report
In large political units the institutional manifestation of the active promotion of economic interest is the pressure group. The reason for the very existence of such groups lies in their ability to promote and to further, through the political-choice process, the particular functional interests represented. The emergence of such groups to positions of dominant importance during the last half century has been one of the most significant developments in the American political scene. This fact, which can no longer be hidden from view or considered as an aberration to orderly political process, has understandably weakened the predominance of the traditional model of democratic choice-making institutions. In the face of observable pressure-group activity with its demonstrable results on the outcome of specific issues presented and debated in legislative assemblies, the behavioral premise that calls for the legislator to follow a selfless pursuit of the “public interest” or the “general welfare” as something independent of and apart from private economic interest is severely threatened. Empirical reality must have its ultimate effect on analytical models, even if this reality contains implications about human behavior that scholars with strongly held ethical ideals find difficult to accept.