Sat 9 Aug, 2003 07:59 pm
A brief discussion on another thread led me to consider how little I really know about lobbying.
How is it that relatively small groups can have a great impact?
Is it just noise, is it campaign donations, is it skill?
For instance, I do not know the size of the Jewish lobby in the USA - but it seems to have a great effect re Palestine/the Middle East.
The Jewish population here in Oz is relatively small - but their efect seems to be similarly large.
I SO do not want this thread to get onto the Israel?Palestine thing, though - right? This is just an illustration. I could equally well have used the gun lobby. Now - this is VERY small in Oz, and we have got through strong gun laws, but you can HEAR the pollies tiptoeing around them, nonetheless.
Does anyone know a lot about the process?
Because of things like the electoral college. If they are concentrated in one district they can have inordinate power. Steelworkers concentrated in one area and Cuban expats are great examples.
one of the strongest lobby's in the US is AARP (american association of retired persons)
Er - huh? How does that work.
LOL Dys! We got a group called Grey Power - now, while one ought to support the political power of older folk (for reasons quite other, of course, than that I am becoming one of them all too fast!) my politician friends find them an absolute bane - because their policies are appallingly right wing and punitive and ignorant, but it is hard to say so without seeming to pick on the vulnerable.
That "huh" was directed to Craven, by the way.
A previous Prime Minister DID pick on an old person once - he was bailed up on one of those media circus mall walks by an obstreporous old man, who was spewing 80 odd years of pent up fury on our rather peppery ex-union boss PM.
Said PM took it for a bit, then lost it, and said, "Shut up, you silly old bugger!"
The regionally concentrated lobbies work like this:
Bush lost the popular vote but was elected. Florida was a big part. The Cuban expat community supported him and you may note that this Admin took a harder anti-Castro line.
Most of America disagrees with some of our Cuban policies but the strong Cuban expat lobby based out of Florida has done well in shaping US/Cuban policy.
So - if they can carry a crucial state there is inordinate power.
Your system seems odd to an outsider.
Here, the party with the most members (or coalition thereof) forms government.
Here, the blandishments go to the swinging seats and swinging voter.
In many cases "lobbying" is synonymous with "bribing."
However, in some cases, "lobbying" is more nearly synonymous with "extorting."
Either way, most of the time lobbying shares one thing in common with gravity: Both suck!
Lobbying overall tends to get a bad rap but the groups do have some benefits too. There are a lot of groups that have paid lobbyists in Washington. AARP, the NRA, the AFL-CIO (labor union), Industry groups, etc..
These groups don't just try to affect election results. They also propose (draft) legislation that promotes their cause and research legislation and poke holes in it where it detracts from their cause. Most of what we read or hear about that is "good" or "bad" about pending legislation comes from one lobbying group or another. While they have some people within them that attempt to influence politicians directly they also have teams that attempt to sway public opinion.
The real fun begins when you have one lobby group complaining about lobbying by another. The Sierra Club is pretty vocal about environmental issues and they often complain about Industry lobbyists but they also have their own paid lobbyists doing the same type of things they are complaining about.
Hmmm - I suspect some lobbyists are quite powerful, Margo - well beyond their numbers.
Remember David Coombe, he of the Paddington Bear Affair, and the weird spy thingy, for which he lost his Parliamentary career?
He became a lobbyist, as do a lot of ex-pollies - Paddington Dave was apparently a good one, too.