Thoughts on the Revolving Door

Why would interest groups want to hire former members of Congress as lobbyists?  Do you support making this practice illegal?

Former members of Congress have experience in government and have a lot of great access and connections with powerful people – which is obviously ideal for groups looking to hire someone to help their cause. Because of their unique qualifications, former members of Congress can hugely help interest groups – and because of that, the now-unemployed politicians are paid serious amounts of money to lobby for the group.

This so-called ‘revolving door’ between Capitol Hill and K Street (which includes staffers as well, not just actual members of Congress) is unquestionably problematic. For example, in February, The New York Times wrote: “A top aide to a Republican congressman from Arizona helped promote a legislative plan to overhaul the nation’s home mortgage finance system. Weeks after leaving his government job, he reappeared on Capitol Hill, now as a lobbyist for a company poised to capitalize on the plan.” Such mingling of interests could arguably be called corruption. 

While undoubtedly troublesome, making the practice illegal would be extremely difficult, if not flat-out impossible. (Additionally, it should be noted that this issue is a part of the complex and vast problem of well-funded special interests unfairly influencing our government.) Considering how Congress (often under the influence of lobbyists) are the ones who would be in charge of making the practice illegal, it’s almost unimaginable that a Congress (who can’t seem to reach a consensus on just about anything) would pass a bill that would potentially cut millions of dollars from their future earnings. It’s quite frankly absurd to seriously think that the same scumbag politicians and lobbyists who use the revolving door would vote against their self-interests – even if their self-interests directly contrast with the interests of our nation in general. (On a similar and related note, career politicians can be problematic as well, but, as I’ve written before, it’s silly to think that those same career politicians would support term-limits that would shorten their careers.)

While there doesn’t seem to be a complete solution, we aren’t powerless against such corruption. We the people vote for Congress. And we have the power to vote for politicians who are committed to their principles. For example, former Congressman Ron Paul, while controversial to many people, fully deserves praise for refusing to give in to lobbyists – as the notorious Jack Abramoff has explained. Congressman Justin Amash is another good example. It would be much easier for Americans to vote for politicians who won’t submit to lobbyists than to expect our current politicians to make the practice illegal.

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Recommended reading (Feb. 17, 2013)

This weekend I’ve made time to read what I want rather than forcing myself to endure assigned readings.  Here are some of the articles that I especially enjoyed:

“The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt” by Phillip Lopate for The New York Times. A great article discussing what makes the art of an essay so intriguing: “Argumentation is a good skill to have, but the real argument should be with oneself.”

“The Killing of Black Boys” by John Edgar Wideman for Essence magazine. A powerful take on the lasting legacy of an unimaginable tragedy: “I cannot wish away Emmett Till’s face. The horrific death mask of his erased features marks a place I ignore at my peril. The sight of a grievous wound. A wound unhealed because untended. Beneath our nation’s pieties, our lies and self-delusions, our denials and distortions of history, our professed certainties about race, lies chaos. The whirlwind that swept Emmett Till away and brings him back.”

“5 Reasons to Grand Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants” by Ed Krayewski for Reason. A well-argued defense of an unpopular idea: “What’s wrong with granting amnesty to hard-working, tax-paying individuals whose only crime is their immigration status? Indeed, amnesty is not only the best solution to our immigration problem, it is the only feasible solution.”

“How Crazy Is Too Crazy to Be Executed?” by Marc Bookman for Mother Jones. A detailed account of Andre Thomas’ gruesome insanity: “Andre had cut out the children’s hearts and returned home with the organs in his pockets. For another, he was careful to use three different knives so that the blood from each body would not cross-contaminate, thereby ensuring that the demons inside each of them would die. He then stabbed himself in the chest, but he did not die as he had hoped.”

“American Citizens Split On DOJ Memo Authorizing Government to Kill Them” from The Onion. As always, The Onion uses satire to point out society’s absurdity: “On the one hand, I get it—it’s important for the government to be able to murder me and any of my friends or family members whenever they please for reputed national security reasons. But on the other hand, it would kind of be nice to stay alive and have, maybe, a trial, actual evidence—stuff like that.”

Who’s screwing whom?

Priorities, America.  When will we learn priorities?

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