Every week, our Anonymous Lobbyist answers your questions about how laws get made and why they probably shouldn't. If you have a question about the dirty business of doing business in Washington, ask her.
This week: Are they stupid or duplicitous?
From your previous answers, I can deduce that you feel that every Congressman and Congresswoman is a raging fucktard, but is there one representative or senator who is closest to having a full set of chromosomes?
"Raging fucktard," huh? Actually, that wouldn't be a half-bad way to describe my feelings for politicians, except for the insult to the mentally challenged among us. Having volunteered with the mentally challenged in high school (hey, everyone needs a volunteer stint on their college applications), I would never insult them by counting politicians among their ranks -- that's just inappropriate and cruel. So, let's just call politicians fuckwits, shall we?
And, obviously, you guys all vote for them, so they can't be that stupid, unless everyone else is even dumber, which is a possibility I'm not willing to discount. So they (and their campaign staffers) must be smarter than at least 51 percent or more of voters in their districts. I mean, what I really think of politicians is that they're brilliant snake oil salesman -- they've got all the answers to your problems, see, just sign on the dotted line. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a huckster, per se, since I am one myself. The real difficulty with the situation is that you have to be a politician to get elected to office, and then you're expected to make important, life-changing decisions (in some cases) for something like 300 million people, let alone the other 6.2 billion in the world that might be directly or indirectly affected by them. But in Congressional elections, like in high school class elections, it's not the valedictorian/Chess Club President/science fair gold medal winner who wins 99.9 percent of the time (apologies to Rush Holt), it's the head cheerleader/soccer team captain/Student Athlete award winner who wins through that magic "popularity" elixir. They've got all their chromosomes, I'm sure, it's just being a politician makes one completely unprepared and unqualified for the job of governing.
Which is why, in many cases, they turn that job over to their staffers, most of whom are under 30 and many of whom are 25. And, once you recognize that the U.S. is governed by a bunch of oversexed, underpaid and incredibly partisan 28 year olds, the whole of U.S. policy, foreign and domestic, seems much more explicable.
Excuse my ignorance, but do you often interact with Congressmen & women directly, or only through staffers?
Both, depending on the Member and/or Senator. Some will lower themselves to meet with lobbyists if the issue is big enough or important enough to their agenda, others will only meet with their "friends" who are lobbyists (good gig if you can get it and not look like Abramoff), and others shunt everything to staff since it's the staff who are going to tell him/her how to vote anyway. It's absolutely important to meet with the staffer even if you met with the Member, since they've got the daily contact/best influence with the Member on the issue and it's rare to walk into a Member's office not knowing how they're going to vote and to come out with an answer, what with them being politicians and all. So, my days involve some of each, but there's way more staff on an issue (given personal and Committee staff) then there are Members, so it might tilt slightly more that direction. And, on days where my bullshit tolerance meter is set to low, I prefer to meet with staff because they're often not politic enough to hide what they're really thinking and I can tell where I'm going/getting rather than trying to pedal into the wind.
Are politicians really as evil and duplicitous as they seem to us "average folk" or are they the misunderstood guardians of the republic that they say they are?
Does your elected Representative really claim to be a misunderstood guardian of the Republic? Because, dude, seriously, Byrd is fucking old, you could have just voted for the other guy last time and he probably wouldn't have noticed anyway.
Evil is really giving them more credit than they deserve. Evil takes time, effort, skill and a level of caring that I'm not sure most of them bring to the table. Duplicitous? Well, I think at this point in American democracy we're all kind of used to sneaky attack ads and broken campaign promises- does anyone really still expect that they're being honest in the first place? I mean, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if a politician lies or breaks a promise when it's apparent that they (and everyone expects them to) lie and break promises, then did they really lie or even make promises in the first place?