Can We Just Do Away with Lobbyists, Please?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m on the dense side about some things. It can take a while sometimes for me to really understand how things work–if I ever understand them at all. (Auto mechanics remains outside my ken, though I’ll also admit I haven’t tried terribly hard to understand it. The wizard waves his wand, and the car works again. It might as well operate by house elf, for all I understand how my mechanic fixes things under the hood.)

But in any case, one thing (among many) that’s been frustrating me lately is all the talk about the power lobbyists have in government. First, the disclaimer: I’m not entirely sure I understand what it is lobbyists do. Maybe I’m oversimplifying things, and even my ninja googling skills haven’t brought it to light. But from what I understand, lobbyists exist and succeed because our legislators are too __________ to figure things out on their own. (I’ll let you fill in that blank. You may use one word–or more!)

And some of that makes sense. We don’t elect officials based on their expertise in climate science or economics or whatever. We elect them because hopefully they’re smart enough to weigh the issues out in their minds and come to informed, good decisions about what to do and how to vote. (At least, that’s how I choose to elect people. I suppose others don’t always follow my lead on that one.)

This is why I get grumpy whenever I hear about how the government’s run by lobbyists, and how helpless the little guys are when they have to go up against the NRA or the teacher’s union or some other huge group. Because to me, that places the blame on the people pumping out the disinformation.

I hear garbage information every day. It’s all over television and the web. It’s all over Facebook. But it’s up to me to weigh that information and decide what to listen to and what to ignore. What things make sense and what things don’t. I do the same thing as a librarian. I teach people how to look at a source and decide how credible it is or not.

These are basic, fundamental life skills these days, as far as I’m concerned.

So why can’t we expect our legislators and politicians to have them?

Lobbyists are only as highly paid as they are because they’re successful in changing the minds of politicians. Wouldn’t it be nice if we approached legislation in a similar fashion to the way we approach the law? Let all sides come and make their case before the legislators. You wouldn’t give the defense twice as much time as the prosecution–or vice versa–your verdict would be tossed out on its proverbial ear. (Note: I’m not a lawyer. I hope I’m making correct assumptions here.) Our legal system seems to be set up to allow people to make arguments and then make rational decisions about those arguments.

Congress seems more like Hungry Hungry Hippos.

So I’m asking you, the internet at large, to explain to me why it has to be like this. Can something be done to change it? Because I don’t like feeling like we as a nation are powerless to change something that makes so little sense and seems like such an easy choice: eliminate lobbyists, or rein them in somehow.

Now, please tell me what I’m missing in this picture.

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