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Democracy, Lobbying, & Money

Why do so many people on the left just mindlessly repeat that we need to get money out of politics, that lobbyists and “special interests” have too much influence in Washington these days, that our precious democracy is being threatened by money and lobbying? The reason I ask is because I am always amused by how those on the Left (as they are wont to do) believe in two mutually exclusive ideals at once.

Lobbying and peddling influence, petitioning government (sometimes with money), special interests, that’s what democratic government is! Democracy does not just mean we get to choose who will rule us in elections, it also means that citizens can continue to influence their rulers even after elections. Can you imagine how silly it would be if elections were the only time we had any say in what government does? There is a reason the First Amendment includes the phrase “to petition their government for a redress of grievances”…that’s lobbying in a nutshell right there! The very idea, the very reason for democratic government is so the people ruled by the governed can always have a means of controlling or changing what the government does.

So of course a democracy will have lobbying and of course money will have a role in governance, especially when so much money is at stake over who controls the government and what the government will do. Simply put, if the government can choose to bestow incredible amounts of money on its favored people, then people will spend lots of money to win the favor of the government. So if the Democrats really are as concerned about money corrupting politics (as if politics isn’t corrupt to begin with), then their first mission should be to reduce the scope of government. If the Democrats really are as concerned with lobbying undermining democracy as they claim to be, then they’re idiots. Lobbying is democracy.

It’s surprising how people in politics and the media usually say “special interests” as if they’re the equivalent of child rapists. People going to Congress to represent their special interest is simply a democratic government at work. If the government didn’t have control over so much of our lives and our economy, there would be fewer special interests. For example, Boeing is often considered a special interest because they receive so much money in defense contracts, but they also make airliners. If they make a new supersonic airliner (which under current, real life law would be unable to fly over the United States) and Boeing spend lots of money and time lobbying a key senator or representative to have the FAA allow Boeing to fly its new supersonic airliner, does that make Boeing evil or are they simply trying to improve our lives and yet they need to kiss the ring of politicians and bureaucrats to do so? In short, because the government possesses so much power, because it can control so much, because the government can say very effectively what can and cannot happen in this country, it gives many people the incentive to lobby government.

But here’s one more thought. Remember how I said the Left tends to believe in two contradictory values at once? Here’s another example: the Left exalts democracy and Minority Rights, yet democracy is the opposite of minority rights because in a democracy the minority always loses. And Democrats always say they are the champions of the weak, the “little guy” yet democracy always favors the strong and the large, because they can win or buy more influence in government than can a little guy (courtesy to George Will for pointing that out).

-SL

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