In 1834, the famous French chronicler Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that America was a nation of joiners. That observation still holds true today. Americans love to form and join groups. There are more than 200,000 associations in the United States, and it is estimated that two-thirds of all Americans belong to at least one. While not every one of these organizations is politically active, the fact remains that through the years interest groups have come to play an important role in American government.