I hear people say "get money out of politics" all the time, but I never really see any effort to address the issue. I support lobbying in its original purpose of allowing the electorate the ability to petition the government. Unfortunately, as the government has grown and politicians have moved farther and farther away from representing their actual constituents' best interests, lobbying has seemingly become something more sinister.
I conducted a completely invalid and non-scientific experiment and asked my Twitter and Facebook followers the following question: "Do you think lobbying is good for this country?" It was a simple yes/no option. On both platforms the answer was 100% "No." This is probably a representative result, however, given the total # of respondents (236) and the limited sample pool, I can't say so with any validity. Lobbyists buy political influence resulting in the politicians we depend on to adequately represent our interests becoming dependent on the funneled money from lobbyists for their re-election campaigns.
Let me be clear, it is illegal for a special interest (think big pharma or NRA) to directly hand a politician money. That would be a bribe. It is not illegal, however, for that special interest group to hire a lobbying firm who throws a big party and calls it a fundraiser. At that fundraiser the special interest group can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars followed by the lobbyist cutting a big ol' check for the politician's campaign. I am certain I don't have to complete the equation for you, but I will. That politician then votes on/introduces legislation (think government grants or tax breaks) that benefit the special interests that funded their campaign.
You may be saying to your screen, in fervent defense of lobbyists, "But Heather....You could hire a lobbying firm to take up your cause!" (If you're doing this, you're probably a lobbyist or career politician.) According to everyone's best friend Google, the average lobbying firm charges a $15k retainer followed by a whopping $50k/month for "full advocacy services." Good luck finding out what those billable services are....Kind of like those bills you get from a hospital. What average every day voter can afford that? Spoiler alert, they can't. I encourage anyone reading this to take a trip to www.opensecrets.org and take a peek at who is contributing money, who is receiving it and how those politicians are voting. It will blow your mind and break your heart all at once.
The ironically great thing about this problem is that it's bipartisan. It would seem that every politician's vote is for sale which means that we are united in being ignored. So the question is, how do we as every day voters combat this and force politicians to either listen to their constituency or get out of Washington? We demand term limits. We run for office and introduce bills that will prevent politicians from voting on legislation involving companies they've accepted money from. We pass legislation that prevents any member of Congress from working for lobbying firms for at least 10 years after leaving office. We limit/prohibit lobbyists' ability to throw lavish fundraisers for campaigns. Write your congressman, voice your concerns, get your name on a ballot....Put the power back where it belongs; with the people.