We all know, at least I believe we do, that lobbying is a group of people that are paid to seek favor and influence Government officials. Certainly controversial but it goes under the headline of questionable behavior although “paid” is the opportune word here. Lobbying goes back to the very early days of our country appearing in the Federalist Papers that was used to sway public opinions.
Why has there been a rise in lobbying over the past few decades? The answer is pure and simple, money. There is a reason that many congressional officials who move on to their next career after serving the public they become lobbyists, it is their large Rolodex, their relationships with the officials that they worked with while in office and they finally get to make some real cash.
Going back to the trail of cash, it is not only lobbyists inserting their powerful capital into the pockets of the people working the system, it is about the cost of winning an election. It has always cost money to win an election from hiring a team, traveling across the state or country, and more.
In 1976, the average cost to run for a Congressional seat or a Senate seat was roughly $100k and for President is was $10m. The cost in 2017 to win a Senate seat cost over $10M and that is just one Senate seat. It is not easy to raise that type of capital from individuals, you need PAC money to get there. If you look at inflation numbers, nothing really changed until 2000 when PAC’s were granted no limits. That no limit has bled into the amount of money being spent on campaigns.
The full-page ad that ran in the NYTimes this past week showing the amount of money each candidate took from the NRA was powerful. I’d like to know what each candidate took from every single PAC. Not surprising, this all comes down to power and you can’t have the power without the cash to get there. Companies such as gun makers, car manufacturers, hotel owners, gas companies…need I go on, have lobbyists, and create PACS in order to sway voters, period. Just like Russia spent money on social media, that too swayed voters. Lobbyists are paid to hold on to those golden handcuffs such as hotels trying to make sure AirBNB doesn’t operate, to keep coal up and running, to finance farmers so that Monsanto can continue to make products that are bad for our health. Need I go on?
The NRA is to make sure that gun manufacturers make a lot of money. We need to make changes or have more transparency around the people taking cash from these PACS because the only way we are going to change the way we are doing business and electing officials is for all of us to be civic minded and go out and vote. It all comes down to one vote, one voice and when you start adding up all those votes to vote in people who don’t want to be swayed by PACS but actually represent their constituencies, then things might change but the issue is they still need that cash to get elected. How do we change that?