Lobbyists, You’re Fired!
Let’s contemplate the following scenario for a moment. Indulge me.
The US Government, after much debate and pressure from the American people, officially and legally bans all branches of the government from the Federal to local level from direct association and deals with lobbyists from special interest groups and private organizations. This includes all fundraising activity, preferential treatment, financial contributions of any kind, campaign promises and “freebies”. Additionally, all former members of Congress & other posts in the Executive Branch are disallowed from engaging in lobbyist activity in the private sector for a moratorium period of 10 years in an effort to disassociate tight links between corporations & currently serving politicians. In its stead, all special interest and corporate lobbyists must engage in their activity at the state level through consolidated commerce organizations where all proposed lobbyist legislation would be voted upon by the people to assure their interests at addressed at the regional and local level. Politicians would be forced to heed the call of their constituents’ concerns and eschew the direct influence of lobbyist interests. Lobbying from foreign corporations and foreign special interests would be strictly prohibited. Full accountability of any remaining lobbying activity requires full disclosure to the government.
So…? What do you think? Here’s a major problem with this setup. The problem of what’s going on in Washington is much bigger than just lobbyists and how they go about jobs influencing politicians in the Federal government. Who are lobbyists looking out for? Financial organizations like Bank of America & JPMorgan Chase, commerce & food industries like Monsanto & Tyson, health organizations like BlueCross BlueShield & GlaxoSmithKline… this is only a drop in the bucket and what’s staggering is the amount of money spent in lobbying efforts by the over 12,000 active lobbyists in the US. In 2010, lobbyists spent $3.51 BILLION dollars in their efforts!! Do you get how much we could do in this country with that kind of money spent elsewhere?
Here’s the pervasive argument in favor of the lobbyists: any effort to curtail their efforts could be construed as a violation of their First Amendment rights. This is the quote from the US Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Underlined is the problematic statement. Still, I certainly don’t believe our founding fathers considered corporations to be part of the group allowed to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. Petitioning to the highest bidder is a more apt description of what goes on; our government is essentially one huge auction block. The real people — everyday Americans — simply don’t have the capital to compete with the special interest groups and corporations.
It isn’t the first time that legislators have tried to curb lobbyist activity and ironically, lobbyists have been able to lobby their way out of their shackles. And there’s the rub: we must remove the monetary and “tit for tat” incentive in this lobbyist model. Without that, lobbyists lose a good portion of their ability to influence government decisions.
It behooves me to think that people have lost their power, lost their understanding of their place in this overwhelmingly confusing system. Politicians really need to reconnect with their constituents and come back to the fundamentals of representation.
And the people need to get their butts moving and become more knowledgeable and involved in the things that affect them directly. Make no mistake: every decision elected officials make and every inch of influence lobbyists exert on these officials will be felt directly by YOU. Denial will not help you.
It’s time to #GetReal.
I’m mentally spent now… O_o