Lobbying were abolishedWhat If . . . Lobbying were abolished?
I respectfully disagree with the above post, as I do not believe the vast majority of lobbyists and lobbying groups represent the American people. Rather, they represent monied interests and special interests, which by definition are not representative.
Simple lobbying--conveying your opinions and needs to your elected officials--is one thing, but today very little lobbying takes place that is not accompanied by direct or indirect campaign donations and favoritism, even promised lucrative positions to Congressmen once they retire, thus unfairly influencing their current policies and positions. We have laws delaying this practice, but that is, at most, inconvenient.
I favor something short of abolishing lobbying. I think we should ban all lobbyists from the floor of Congress and from writing actual legislation (it happens, believe it or not) and extend a ban on Congressmen working for lobbyists they have taken donations from for ten years after they leave office.
If lobbying were abolished we would have a much less democratic system. We would have a system where the legislators would not be getting input from interest groups that represent the American people. Sure, it would be good to reduce the influence of money in politics, but that is not the same thing as getting rid of lobbying. Getting rid of lobbying would mean that groups like the AARP, the NRA, the Sierra Club (and also big business, of course) would no longer be able to bring their case in a direct and detailed way to members of Congress. This would reduce the amount of information/opinion flowing from the people to Congress. That is not what is needed in a democracy.
So reducing the amount of money lobbyists are allowed to give would probably be a good thing, but banning lobbying altogether would not.
I respect # 2's point of view and agree that lobbying of some sort is probably not only a good thing but is definitely constitutional. However, there seem ways to eliminate some of the problems with lobbying without eliminating lobbying altogether. Certainly any gifts or "perks" given by lobbyists to legislators should be strictly forbidden. Cutting back on the process of "earmarking" might decrease the power of lobbyists. It would be interesting to explore what other practical steps might be taken that could diminish the power of lobbyists without violating the Constitution. It would also be interesting to explore how other republics deal with the problems often presented by lobbying.
I'm afraid that few of us have what's best for the American people as a whole in mind when we make political decisions, because there are few political positions that can be said to be best for the American people. Our politics is an aggregate of often competing interests, and lobbyists, albeit imperfectly, and often in a corrupt manner, represent those interests by bringing them into focus and making politicians aware of the consequences for supporting them or not. Reformed, yes. Abolished, no. As for the original post, I think that abolishing lobbying would make politicians thoroughly inaccessible to their constituents, even more so than they are today.
If lobbyists were abolished and forbidden access to political campaigns, I think the money would find some other way in. Certainly there would be a short drop in campaign funding, but if you want to give someone money, it is very easy; an anonymous envelope delivered and later a non-traceable email explaining where it came from. We have less of the overt "Here's some money, do as I say" lobbying than we used to in times of closed sessions and closed doors, but there is still significant and negative influence from lobbyists in the U.S. government.
The problem with lobbying is twofold as I see it. First, they are not able to see the larger picture, because they are only interested in their agenda. So, they may be myopic in this sense, which would not be good for the American public. Second, lobbyists have lot of money to give, which means power and clout. We should certainly stem the giving, so that the influence would not be great. In addition, getting rid of lobbyists would not be a bad idea. If we did this, we'll just have to think of other ways to get our opinions to the politicians.
I think that, as much as the right of lobbying in its purest form is something that should be respected, as other editors have commented, in reality, lobbying is something that is used and abused on the whole by specific corporations and interest groups and involve lots of money, transforming lobbying into something that cannot be achieved by the ordinary individual unfortunately. The eradication of lobbying therefore would have some excellent impacts.
I also agree with post #3. Lobbyists, normally, begin with a cause that they wish to fight for, but typically end up going where the money is (or who will listen when pockets can be lined). Unfortunately, "money makes the world go 'round" and lobbyists are here to stay (politicians couldn't live without them.
I tend to agree with Post #3. Lobbyists are NOT out for what's best for the American people as a whole, but instead for the groups and special interests they represent. Money spent by lobbyists and the intent for which it is doled out is not that far removed from simple bribery.