Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Name, Same Taint

The word "lobbyist" has become so tainted in the public eye that the American League of Lobbyists decided last month to change its name to the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

Sorry, but that won't help.

There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying. After all, at its core is the exercise of the First Amendment right to petition our government. From my vantage point, what has tarnished lobbying is not the act of lobbying itself but rather the modern-day marriage of lobbying and campaign fundraising. Lobbyists are seen as key brokers in the system of legalized extortion and bribery that we now have. They are seen this way because the lobbyists representing the biggest, most influential interest groups are indeed key brokers in this crooked system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry I disagree. I think you're whittling things away from the whole picture in order to fit your Org.'s theme and purpose, and I don't think that's necessary really. Lobbying may be at a real low point, but it's not like it would be seen by most people as a fine and dandy profession if campaign money were out of the equation. Lobbyists are manipulators, people whose job it is to make, keep, and exploit connections and relationships in a very Machiavellian manner. They have to (in order to succeed) react to all people and situations in a calculated manner - valuing one and all only to the extent that a person will help them reach their goal. Influencing outcomes, using every trick they can muster to seduce powerful people. Other people generally do not admire that kind of personality and job function, even in this weird world we are in now. It's right up there with con men, loan sharks, and hoookers.
Most importantly in a Democracy - Lobbying will always favor the Elite, simply because Regular Joes and Janes do not have the time, energy, connections, techniques and yes, money. Because if you are surviving the normal way, your time is taken up surviving. People who have the "free time" to Lobby for an interest group need to pay bills, so someone is paying for their manipulations. Either they're wealthy, or money is flowing to the Lobbyist so they can do their thing. There's no possible egalitarian form of Lobbying unless you have a bunch of kids around a table all clamoring for treats. Mom might hear all voices equally. In politics and other organizations, lobbyists will always by definition have to be the mouthpieces of the elite. In theory poor people could pool money to support a Lobbyist but even that proxy level of effort takes time, money and savvy that the commoner hasn't got.
Lobbyists suck, they always will. Campaign money or no. BTW Kathleen Vinehout was a lobbyist, she gets offers now to become a high paid one again, using connections she has made as a Servant of The People, and you know she will eventually go back to it. Just at a higher paid level than she was initially. She will be one of those revolving door types, you wait and see. Guaranteed.