The Right to Lobby
The right to lobby government agencies and political officials is an extension of the Constitutional mandated right to petition. There are thousands of lobbyists operating in Washington, DC and state capitals on every conceivable issue. Stephen Bassett, the founder of the Paradigm Research Group, was the first to register as a lobbyist representing organizations addressing issues related to the extraterrestrial presence. This was principally an act of normalization as it was wholly appropriate for an issue of such magnitude to be lobbied. That no one had done so circa 1996 was a direct result of the truth embargo. He remained the only such lobbyist until Chase Kloetzke registered in November of 2017.
The attitude of the general public toward the role of the lobbyist is mixed. It has been influenced by substantial media coverage of excesses on the part of some organizations relating to some issues. During the last quarter of the 20th Century the role of money in election politics began to escalate and exploded with the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision in 2010. There was also a huge increase in funding for issue lobbying during this time frame.
The push back to this has led to numerous misconceptions:
- Lobbyists are all highly paid representatives of commercial interests. Fact: a significant number of lobbyist are modestly paid or pro bono representatives for social issues.
- Lobbying is not necessary. Fact: in a representative democracy of 300 million people, without professional efforts of intermediaries and direct activists, the power of the people to influence government policy would be limited primarily to the ballot box. Lost would be the ability to convey direct viewpoints to seated politicians and agency personnel when the need was immediate. The dialogue of the election process is a slow one indeed. A lobbyist (another way of saying representative or activist) can convey exact positions to policy makers, press the issues consistently over time, and track results.
- Lobbyists are covert. Fact: recent laws have significantly cleaned up lobbying abuse by requiring formal registration, limits on proportional spending by organizations, limits on gratuities and other inducements, and much more. Lobbying is public process.
- Politicians do not like lobbyists. Fact: political office holders rely heavily on representatives of the nation’s vast number of issues and causes to supply them with information and advice. They constitute a huge resource. No politician wants to see the process abused, but few do not appreciate its importance.
- It is difficult to become a lobbyist. Fact: it is easy. The registration process has been simplified and the requirements are modest in order to insure that all public issues can be represented – not just those of the rich and powerful.
- Lobbying is confined to politicians. Fact: in today’s Washington the media is a partner in the processes of government. Influencing the policy decisions of major media is often easier and more effective than direct approaches to officials. The media is not just the eyes and ears of the public, it is also the spokesperson. It does and must reflect what the people want by electing to pursue the issues the people want covered.
Every social/political issue of our time, from land mine proliferation to Gulf War Syndrome to environmental degradation is being lobbied on behalf of the American public 365 days a year. Who would say the politics of Disclosure and the truth embargo are not important enough to be included?