“We must stand up to the special interests in this country!”
How many times have you heard a politician utter this phrase? Invariably, it is always followed with a rousing round of applause, perhaps even a standing ovation. Yes! Let’s get those blood sucking, sleazy lobbyists who represent those blood sucking, sleazy special interests! Lynch ‘em!
I don’t know who is more stupid – the politicians or the voters. Or maybe they both deserve each other.
So, who are these “special interests” that we all hate so much? Well, in the context of this world famous blog we need to recognize groups like the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and the National Right to Life Committee. These groups spend hundreds and thousands of dollars (if not millions) each year promoting their agenda and/or fighting the other side’s scurrilous attempts to bring down our Republic. So, when President Obama or Speaker Boehner assure us that they will no longer cow-tow to the special interests, what exactly does that mean? I mean, it sounds really good, doesn’t it? But let’s get past the rhetoric and play this out for a second.
First of all, EVERYONE has some kind of special interest in something, don’t they? Of course they do. And, if I recall the First Amendment, EVERYONE has the right to express those interests to their Member of Congress or any other elected official. So, if Mark Jones of Brooklyn, New York writes a letter to his Congressman opposing higher taxes, he is expressing his views on an item of “special interest” to him. When Billy Bob Horsehide of Butte, Montana sends an email to his Senator about gays in the military, he is conveying his “special interest” in that issue. EVERYONE has a special interest in something so I don’t understand why everyone says we need to eliminate the “special interests.”
Then, let’s say that Mark Jones is also anti-abortion but he doesn’t have the time or perhaps inclination to write a letter expressing his opposition to the “legal killing” that is going on in this country. Instead, he sends $100 to the National Right to Life Committee. Then, the NRLC sends its cadre of lobbyists to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress to express their concern for the “unborn.” Mark is only using a larger organization of like-minded individuals to convey his position on an issue of importance to him. What the hell is wrong with that? Is the NRLC one of those “special interests” that pro-life Speaker John Boehner would seek to eliminate? I think not.
Then let’s take Obama. He also has made a big deal out of promising the American public that he also will eliminate those nasty “special interests.” Let me show you how absurd that notion is. Say pro-life Congressman Chris Smith introduces a bill that eliminates abortions after 24 weeks and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee indicates that he would like to move the bill for a vote. The committee is primarily pro-life so there’s a good chance that the bill will pass. Are you telling me that when a staff person at the White House hears about this bill, he is just gonna sit back and not give it another thought? No way, Jose. In the real world, he will pick up the phone and call – dare I say it – the LOBBYIST for NARAL to get their thoughts on the prospects for this legislation which ultimately could wind up on the President’s desk. The staff person will ask the “experts” about the impact of the bill, he will ask if the pro-choice Members of Congress on the committee should offer some amendments to mitigate the impact of the proposal. In other words, the White House staff will actually strategize with their allies in the pro-choice movement. They may even have a meeting in the Old Executive Office building with all of the pro-choice lobbyists!
Indeed, that’s how it worked years ago when I was a LOBBYIST for the abortion provider movement. I was constantly in touch with President Clinton’s liaison with the “women’s groups.” The point is the White House or those on Capitol Hill do not work in a vacuum. Nor should they. So, all of this stuff about getting rid of the “special interests” is horse hockey, pure and simple. In fact, I would take it a step further – “special interest “ groups are part of our democratic system, they are a way for the little guy to join other like minded little guys and convey their message to their elected officials.
What the heck is wrong with that?