Thank you for returning to Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. I hope you and your loved ones enjoyed a beautiful day of thanks and celebration. I was with family out of state, so there is only one article this week and it is an eye-opener. For all of you who thought “lobbyist” is a dirty word, please read on. The changing role of a lobbyist, for good or bad, needs to be addressed. I was shocked to hear this little often talked about role reversal. I hope you find it informative. Let’s begin…
So you think “lobbyist” is a bad word? Think again. The role of a lobbyist is changing. You didn’t know that? Neither did I, until a conversation with a person-in-the-know got me thinking. Let’s talk about role reversals and the legislative process.
What hasn’t changed: Lobbyists still work for large organizations, companies, private individuals, or the American public. They try to convince elected officials in Congress to vote for or against specific bills that would benefit their clients. This gave Americans the perception of lobbyists that they were paid to pass laws, perhaps ignoring our country’s best interests.
What HAS changed: More and more, Lobbyists now are constructing the language that goes into congressional bills. What??? Read on.
Today, Congress is more focused on improving its image. Priority #1 is how YOU perceive THEM. In years past, a member of the House of Representatives had maybe one Press Secretary or a Communications Director, or both, with an intern. Today, a congressman’s office is more likely to have five individuals to handle communications, like social media, print media, video, messaging, and digital communities.
Formerly, a member of Congress might have had multiple legislative assistants to assist in writing legislation. The details of legislation a congressman’s legislative staff would write, if passed, became the laws you and I live under. This, too, has changed. Now, there are far fewer legislative assistants on Capitol Hill because the focus is on Image. Besides, colleges aren’t teaching the complicated, detailed legislative process like they used to. Instead, writing legislation has become the lobbyists’ job. Often they are former congressmen or staffers familiar with the process.
You might say that Lobbyists are a necessity today, not an enemy because the lawful legislative process must be followed. For it to be followed, you must employ people who know how to write legislation; and that legislation must be readable at the Supreme Court level. Legislation can’t be filled with mazes of feelings.
It’s not “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” anymore. Your perception of Congress’ image is considered more important than accurately crafted law (legislation that is readable, understandable, and less than a thousand pages, for example). Be ready to look for ways to encourage a better legislative process on Capitol Hill.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸