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: lines -- where do you draw them?
Is there a point where you would refuse to lobby? In other words, is there an actual agenda where you would risk your career because the target of the lobbying effort was too immoral to swallow? I'm not talking something obvious like slavery, but something far reaching like pushing for legislation to bury known leukemia-causing waste in a grade schools backyard?
Well, there are the obvious issues I'd be completely unwilling to lobby for, like the legalization of unequal pay for equal work or sexual harassment in the work place -- I mean, it's hard enough as it is to be a woman in this environment if the crap women lobbyists put up with was actually legal. I wouldn't lobby for abstinence-only sex ed because I think that everyone should engage in educated fucking rather than uneducated fucking -- and, even God knows that everyone is going to fuck, period. I wouldn't advocate for the elimination of abortion rights because of the whole fact that, regardless of education, people will engage in uneducated fucking (see: a significant portion of the men I've slept with) plus the whole rape and incest thing, the unwillingness to make someone else's reproductive choices and my lack of belief in the whole "fetus is a life" line the opposition tries to feed me.
But that's stuff that all directly impacts me, or has at some point in my life. I think it's likely obvious that I'm self-interested enough that there probably isn't enough money to convince me to lobby against my own direct interests (although, if someone would like to try, feel free to email me!). Additionally, I'd refuse to lobby for anything (even stuff I actually agreed with) at the point at which I wasn't getting paid enough to support my current lifestyle/liquor bills.
But, in terms of issues that don't directly impact me, that's a bit harder to say. I guess I wouldn't advocate against gay rights (or marriage), but, then again, that would probably have a significant impact on my ability to socialize with my circle of (fabulously gay) friends. Um, gosh, this is harder than I thought it would be when I started. I'd say I wouldn't advocate for the crazy pro-gun freaks, but, frankly, that mostly comes down to the fact that I know they pay shitty and not any real moral imperative. There's lots of stuff I wouldn't lobby for/against because it would just bore me- like appropriations work, or one of the plethora of medical specialty groups or judicial nominations or most environmental regulation (like your suggestion). I guess I wouldn't work for the Marijuana Policy Project because I don't really give a shit about legal marijuana and it would ruin my job prospects in the future. But immoral? I'm having difficulty thinking of something that is legitimately immoral that wouldn't be previously trumped by reasons of self-interest, low salary, boredom or inability to get another job afterwards. Sorry.
Have you ever heard a member of Congress say (in one way or another) that they're only in it for the money? If so, who said it?
Seriously? The ones that are only in it for the money "retire" and become lobbyists. Those that stay aren't in it for the money- the health insurance, maybe, but not the money.
When you're dealing directly with members of Congress, do you sense a hatred of the general public? If so, does that hatred stem from fear, disdain or something else?
Actually, no, not generally. Sometimes from the staff, but not from the Members. I mean, it's not like I'm hanging out with the Members in shitty dive bars bitching about work, and, besides which, they're elected because of their (general) ability to keep their shit to themselves. Plus, it's staff that have to take the phone-bank directed calls, and answer the crazy-people letters and deal with the majority of constituent (or, even worse, non-constituent) vitriol. That's where the disdain for the general public starts. I mean, there's only so many goddamn letters from Nadine that you can read before you're convinced that your constituents are a bunch of mouth-breathing, conspiracy-buying, crazy-eyed assholes.
I mean, people, seriously, I know that Air America or Faux News or name-your-wing websites get you all fired up to send off that email/make that phone call, but would a little additional research kill you? You're already on the Internet after all. I mean, I'm all for registering your opinion on an issue with your elected representatives- but the other 434 Congress Members and 48 Senators don't really give a shit. Plus, 1 page is more than enough to get your opinion across- you're not educating staffers about an issue. When you do send your email/letter/fax, I promise it will be directed to someone who knows at least as much as (and probably more than) you about the issue- and who definitely knows more than you if you're just cutting and pasting a "sample" letter that s/he's seen it 300 times already. Consider writing your Member as an opportunity to register your opinion- this is good/bad, please vote this way/that way- and not a way to rehash that policy paper you got a C on back in college. We've all done our PoliSci time, please stop trying to prove that your prof was biased against you- it's entirely possible you were just not that smart and not a great writer.