In society, interest groups, political parties, an independent and varied press, and organizations that conduct policy research and advocacy are all essential actors in American democracy. It can be tempting to dream of a false ideal of democracy, one that either pursues the public interest without interference, or that always operates in accordance with the will of the people. This is a temptation to be avoided. Politics is messy, politicians are often ignoble, interest groups are greedy, the press is sensational, parties are controlled by insiders. In the American system, all of that is a feature, not a bug.