To misquote and misuse (he was being nice to lawyers) the line from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI,” one of the first steps in getting our democracy back is to get rid of lobbying in its current money-influenced and corruption-infested form.
The concept of lobbying — presenting your side of an issue to your representative so he can make the most informed decisions, hopefully one that considers your side — is a good one. What we’ve managed to do with that concept is as distanced from ethical reality as charm is from Dick “So what if I shot him in his face, he stuck it in front of my gun” Cheney.
As revealed by the unfolding political scandals, there’s simply too much money in politics.
Greed is killing our democracy. Which is why it’s not surprising that a few lobbyists are upset about the corruption investigations and the light it shines on their disgusting jobs.
Dear lobbyists, we don’t care if you’re upset? Really. Keep your dirty, stinkin’ money. Oh, the poor, widdle wobbyists, forced by some to atone for their unethical and moral transgressions.
I once worked for a company that prided itself in being listed among the top ten most influential companies in Washington, D.C. They touted it to their members as a benefit of contributing to the company’s PAC. Sadly, this benefit of membership only meant that the company’s lobbyists were the most persuasive in getting politicians to bend over and do their bidding, no matter the outcome for those respective politician’s constituents. Much of that persuasion came in the form of money from the PAC.
The foundation of everything wrong with our election and governing system is built on election and lobbying money. Remove the profit-incentive from politics and you remove the greatest impetus for greed and corruption.
Before we can get our politicians to do what’s right by us, first we have to get rid of the motivation to profit handsomely by doing what’s wrong by us.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imagine we’ll ever rid ourselves of people who are corrupted by power, but our current system just makes it too easy.
Let me put this another way, perhaps one that lobbyists might understand. So they can follow, let’s say that greedy politicans are the “rats” and lobbyists are the “garbage.” It’s really just an analogy. They shouldn’t take it personally.
If the rats keep eating out of your garbage can, you have two choices: you can try to kill all the rats or you can make it very difficult for the rats to get to your garbage. If you do the former, you’ll still get rats. As long as there’s garbage to be eaten, rats will find a way to get it. If you do the latter, you’ll eventually get rid of the rats because they won’t have any motivation to visit your house.
We don’t need to kill the lobbyists, but we do need to keep them from dumping garbage all over democracy. If we do, perhaps we’ll have fewer rats in seats of power.
ps. Actually, like so many of the politicians in DC, I lied. Because what lobbyists do effects me personally, they should take my analogy personally.