One of my favorite movies is the Aaron Sorkin written The American President. In the midst of the first 500 times I watched it I decided I wanted to be a lobbyist. Boning the President aside, it seemed so romantic. Strong political ideals, persuasive passionate arguments, working to change and enhance the country you love.
Oh, how silly I was in those days. You don’t need persuasive arguments to be a lobbyist. You just need to represent a company or interest with a shitload of money.
Lobbying doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. My Dad used to represent Special Education interest groups and told me stories about how they’d lobby then Governor Gary Locke while he was writing the state budget. They’d wait until he had to run to the bathroom and they’d present their case in the hallway.
I love that. And I sincerely wish that was how lobbying was.
The simple fact is that it costs a lot of money to get and stay elected. A lot. And even though Congress is riddled with millionaires, they still need all those campaign contributions. In my introductory Political Science class in college, I wrote a paper on campaign finance reform and there are a mind boggling number of proposals to fix the crooked system. However, because I want government to function like an Aaron Sorkin script, here is my simple solution.
Just take the money out of campaigns all together. Elections should be tax payer funded. Each candidate gets a flat amount and keeps receipts and a spreadsheet detailing how it’s spent.
Take the money out of getting and staying elected. It won’t totally blunt the effect of lobbyists or those dastardly special interests, but it will help.