As government’s powers spread beyond the original grant offered by the Constitution, the Madisonian system of checks and balances began to break down. As a result, today’s activist government often works for the benefit of narrow, often wealthy factions over the public interest. The way this corruption functions has evolved throughout American history. In the 19th century, insuperable political machines served as mediators between politicians and the industrial magnates, railroad tycoons, and financial giants who dominated society. But that old regime gave way because of the Great Depression.
Thanks to the massive government expansions during the New Deal and Great Society period, the old party bosses mostly disappeared, save for a few holdovers in places like Chicago. Instead, interest group became the principal medium of influence-peddling.
The proliferation of interest groups has utterly transformed the American political process. One of the earliest politicos to recognize this development and its implications was James Rowe, a New Dealer who was an integral part of Truman’s reelection brain trust.