Is lobbying important?
According to the 1st Amendment everyone has the right to "petition government." This means that in our democracy even you have the right to voice your concerns to your elected representatives. However, what happens when this gets out of control? Many people today feel that lobbysits bribe elected officials to get what they want in politics. Is this really the case? Do you think lobbying is important and why? Why you think there are so may problems with lobbyists and what can be done to solve them
- Easy B Me IILv 51 decade agoBest Answer
There has been much worrisome news lately concerning the lobbying industry.
Revelations about the string-pulling of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff have pulled aside a veil that many Washington players wish had remained in place. The upcoming start of the new Medicare drug subsidy has unleashed a health-care industry feeding frenzy, as various interests try to affect to their advantage how the regulations get written and carried out.
It is all enough to make an ordinary citizen think that the choicest fruits of our democracy are available only to those who can afford to hire people to harvest them.
So it might seem a strange time to suggest that you and your neighbors share some significant advantages when it comes to affecting the course of events in Washington. Yet it's true
The lobbying industry may have a leg up in some respects — money, contacts, professional smarts and a seemingly endless supply of Super Bowl tickets and posh restaurant reservations among them — but these are not the only things that count. In fact, they can be outweighed by ordinary citizens who are resolved to make the most of their own, simple strengths.
First among these is the fact that you are represented in Washington by a House member and two senators. In my experience, most members of Congress take very seriously their role in representing the needs and desires of constituents back home. Not only does this mean that you can get a foot in the door, it also means that — assuming they want to be re-elected — your representatives will be reluctant to ignore you. You start out with access that most lobbyists have to work to gain.
Beyond this basic constitutional fact, members of Congress also know that the folks back home are often in a good position to understand how a piece of legislation might affect them. They are ready to listen. So when your congressman comes home, it gives you an opportunity to meet in an informal way — over a cup of coffee, for instance — that most lobbyists can only envy.
Moreover, because members of Congress know they need to gauge the sentiments of the communities they represent, you and your neighbors possess a distinct advantage over well-funded lobbyists: If you speak directly and forcefully about how a bill might affect you and your family, you have a kind of credibility that lobbyists simply cannot match.
And because you live in your community, not in Washington, you have direct access to other players that no member of Congress can ignore. You can appeal to your local media — which most members of Congress consider more important than the national media. And you also have the chance to join or form coalitions with groups in your area to oppose or support legislation, and even to work for or against your representative in Congress.
Finally, you have a home-turf advantage. Most lobbyists live in or around Washington and come from places all over the United States — indeed, from all over the world. You, on the other hand, come from the same region as your House member and the same state as your senators. You have experiences, culture, slang, even friends and acquaintances in common.
This puts you a step ahead in what may be the single most important task for any lobbyist, professional or citizen: establishing a good ongoing relationship with a member of Congress. You may not always agree with one another, but if your representative knows that you have valuable insights from your local perspective or constructive arguments to add to what he or she is hearing from others, that goes a long way toward leveling the playing field.
I don't want to play down the influence that professional lobbyists enjoy. There are many thousands of them now, and most of them do their work with skill and diligence. But for an ordinary citizen who has something to say, this should be at worst a challenge, not a barrier. The deck is stacked against you only as long as you allow it to be.
- 1 decade ago
While we all have the right to free speech, it seems according to the courts to be limited to how much money you have. Lobbyist donate money to people who are on committees where legislation is debated, and if they represent people or an industry that has a lot of members and money more donations will be spent on campaign donations to anybody leaning in that direction.
When is it out of control? During the 90's and the GOP was handing out Tobacco Lobbyist money on the floor of the legislature. How lobbyist are able to be on the floor of the legislature is because most successful lobbying firms will hire ex congressmen and senators who by serving in the congress or the senate have access to the floor of congress or senate; something that the individual does not have.
Lobbying is important in that it can bring things or ideas to light, such as how decisions made are affecting people, etc.
To solve the problem, is to have a term limit. The key word is term, meaning one. This would stop lobbyist from giving cash to reelection campaigns as there would be no one getting reelected.
Some will argue this would interupt business as people learned the job of governing on the fly, but if the term included the first year being there to learn the job from the current elected official the person would have an in depth knowledge of how Washington works before he began working as a congressman the following year.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
I congratulate you for recognizing the connection between lobbying and the First Amendment. Most people who criticize lobbyists don't see the connection.
Of course it's important. There wouldn't be so many lobbyists if it weren't important. They are trying to influence legislation and legislation is quite obviously very important.
But I disagree with the categorical assumption that lobbyists' financial contributions to the politicians is nothing but bribery. Bribery law, as it stands now, is correct IMO.
Sometimes it seems that people want lobbying reform, not because it will truly cause less corruption, but simply because it is what "the public" wants. Give the public what it wants, even if it doesn't work in the long run. Just placate the public.
- scheffLv 43 years ago
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