#354 – Dick Bernard: In support of a Lobbyist (and scarcely anyone else)

In the previous days post, I related the apparently close professional relationship between a lobbyist and a legislator.
The post brought a couple of angry responses via personal e-mail. In not terribly delicate terms, one demanded to know the name of the lobbyist; the other described the behavior of the two parties to the conversation related at the meeting (I decline to name the lobbyist or his organization, and, of course, I don’t know the name of the lawmaker.)
I didn’t meet the lobbyist at the meeting in question, and I’d never heard of him before, and I know little about his organization except that, I found, it is very dependent on state and federal funding, both of which are drying up “as we speak” by the slash and burn mentality of the current crop of lawmakers.
I actually feel considerable empathy for the Lobbyist. His job is to get funding, and he has to walk an endless tightrope dependent on who happens to be in political power at the time.
Reprehensible as they can seem to be Lobbyists serve a useful role in government policy making. At minimum, they can make sense out of arcane issues, and thus help their cause move along.
There are abundant lobbying abuses, to be sure, but without lobbyists, citizen and otherwise, what appears to be bad policy making would be much, much worse.
I don’t have the empathy for the slash and burn lawmakers currently in control in both houses in Minnesota, and in the U.S. Congress.
By and large they ran against “Government” itself, and they were wildly successful in 2010. Of course, they have their own definition of “good” government (give goodies to Business, and spend lots on “Defense”), and “bad” (people related priorities), which opens them up to problems of their own making.
In a sense, when they chose to close ranks with the bunch that allies with the Tea Party philosophy, they much resembled someone who has fuel and matches and sends angry people out to burn down a building. Let’s call that building “Government”.
Naturally, some of the rabble take that invitation to heart, and set the blaze. Some are even democratically elected as “leaders”.
But then comes a problem: as with a literal fire, the flames do not discriminate among “good” and “bad” government. As the house catches on fire, none of the rooms are protected from damage. The risk is that the entire structure goes up in smoke, or at minimum is severely damaged. As an act of an arsonist has consequences, so does “throw the bums out” philosophy.
In my simple analogy, the people and party who exploited the angry voters now have a problem on their hands: to allow the blaze to rage on creates the risk of destroying even what they consider desirable.
To put on the adult hat and urge adult behavior of the mob, turns the angry mob against them, resulting in future election problems.
I believe there are more than a few legislators in this dilemma, currently. They know that they have unleashed insanity, and they’re terrified of the political consequences if they engage in some kind of alternative rhetoric. So they go home and lie to their constituents, hoping to dodge a later electoral backlash.
We are in for a rough slide.
(Of course, someone might say, sometimes fires are useful…after all, you can rebuild. But what if you, at the very same time you’re starting the fire, drop your insurance? And that’s what we’re doing, and have been doing, for some years.)
That leaves “we the people”.

Someone asked, “what do we do?”
The answer is, in my opinion, “do something other than gripe and complain and blame someone else for the problems”.
Sitting on our hands will only make the problem worse.
That’s how I see it.
A friend recently sent me a very simple and profound quote from a column in the Lincoln (NE) Journal Star, (Pickles by Brian Crane, 3/27/11). It speaks to our role:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”