5 February 2004
A little reminder from Bruce:
This election cycle we will hear Democrats attacking corporate lobbyists. What's wrong with the country is that these corporate lobbyists have climbed into bed with Bush and are sucking the treasury dry and robbing ordinary people of their livelihoods. This is what they'll say, and they'll be right. But we should not be so presumptuous to assume that once The D's regain the mantle of power they will kick the lobbyists out to the curb with righteous indignation. I can make a pretty clear prediction that even if a Democrat wins, we will not see the general nature of Washington change. No matter how nice it sounds when Kerry uses his line about "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" we should not expect to see televised images of lobbyists dressed in their suits standing on street corners holding "Will pimp for government money" signs. Not gonna happen.
Or, in Pete Townshend's phrase, "Meet the new boss same as the old boss."
The last clause of the First Amendment keeps Congress from infringing upon the right of the people "to petition the government for a redress of grievances," and inasmuch as corporate structures are considered the functional equivalent of persons (see Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific, 1886), you're pretty much always going to have corporations with grievances (such as, say, insufficient profits) which they would like Congress to redress.
Of course, your non-profit organizations tend to be just as corporate, and therefore just as legally corporeal; the Sierra Club theoretically, at least has the same Constitutionally-mandated access to Congress as does ExxonMobil.
Lobbyists, like the poor, are always with us; they just wear more expensive suits.