March 13, 2017
Websters Dictionary defines lobbying as a group of people united behind a common interest to enact political change. Splitting this definition into pieces we have two concepts. The first is to lobby one must have “a group of people united behind a common interest.” Secondly, the goal of this group of people must be “to enact political change.” In this blog post, we will delve into where lobbying has led our country, and why todays lobbying is killing our political system.
We will start our discussion in 1787. Our countries founders had just finished dotting the I's on the constitution. Our founders had thought long and hard about the constitution and developed many opinions on the potential pitfalls of their new government. The most important opinion of the time on lobbying belonged to James Madison. In the Federalist Papers, Madison feared lobbyist could become too powerful, creating a tyrannical government. To oppose super-lobbies he saw the necessity of having an equally powerful lobby on the opposing side of the issue. For the record, we want to add that Madison was not against lobbies. He agreed they were protected by the free speech amendment and necessary for our constitution to succeed.
Jump to our political system today and lobbies are intimately intertwined. Having gained rights from favorable supreme court rulings and congressional legislations lobbies have become engorged with money becoming the snake Madison feared. Examining the oil lobby we have a few companies such as Exxon Mobile and British Petroleum that have billions in wealth. With this wealth, the oil lobby can influence elections, and law without blinking an eye. How? From Madison we know that to have a safe lobby we must have a group of like minded people, they must wish to enact political change, and they must have an oppositional force.
We feel that a couple of companies acting together does not meet the criterion of being a group of like minded people. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that companies have the same rights as people, it is our opinion that they should not. This ruling is not only a dangerous precedent, but opens the door for unopposed lobbies. Groups of companies can accumulate more money in a year than 100,000 people on the other side of the issue. Therefor, the company has 10 supporters in their “lobby” and the opposition has 100,000, but that 100,000 cannot successfully voice their opinion to congress.
This leads us to point number two. Big lobbies cannot be opposed by the common person. They are simply too big, and have to much influence over congress. In addition, they can use their money on the Internet and Television to blur the line of truth, causing people to believe the lobby is benevolent. In the end, this creates a larger financial disparity as people leave, or never join, the oppositional lobby. Big cooperation lobbies are monopolies, and a cancer to our democracy. We should heed the warning of James Madison, and stop any more damage from being done.
How can we accomplish the goal of breaking the lobby monopolies? Unfortunately, dismantlement of our current lobbies will be incredibly difficult. We can start by electing Congressmen and Congresswomen who support term limits for their seats. Restrictions on terms will prevent any one congressperson from cozying to closely to the big lobbies. The second task will be to prevent lobby money from entering into the election process. By creating a national election lobby money pool no lobby can give to a specific candidate. The pool would be split by the number of registered candidates for that office. The nominees could then solicit individual donations of no more than $1000 dollars.
Finally, Presidents must avoid filling their cabinet with members of the major lobbies. Yes, this statement is directed at President Trump. The only idea worse then having lobbyist influencing cabinet members, is making the lobbyist the cabinet members. These people were not elected by the people and have no accountability to the average American. Lobbyist holding cabinet positions will only lead to self-interest legislation.
In conclusion, Madison tried to warn us about lobbies, and we didn't listen. Instead, we allowed them to grow by ruling in their favor time and again. Now we have lobbies that are so big we may never put them back into the bottle, but if we are diligent and work through the principals outlined in this post, it is our hope to take America from the hands of corporate America, and return it to the people. Please let us know your thoughts on the forum.