Lobbyists create political extremes

The failure of the “Super-Committee” to reach a spending compromise for the nation’s debt comes to the delight of the minority, and the frustration of the majority. Grover Norquist, a key Republican lobbyist on tax reform, was identified on 60 Minutes as the man that has accumulated the GOP congressional promise of never raising taxes on anyone, no matter what deficit circumstances. If a member of the GOP caucus were to do so, he would ensure their defeat by giving large campaign funding to their primary opponent. Norquist’s objectives are much like the other deep-pocketed special interest groups that hold our country hostage.

The goals and faces each party are different, but the theme is the exact same: Get elected, and then keep getting reelected. In 2008, the average Senate Campaign spent $7.26 million, while the average House Campaign spent $840,000. Politicians are forced to raise these kinds of figures to have the ability to finance a legitimate campaign. Special interest groups give easy access for campaign contributions to politicians and their respected parties. However, their money comes without a price. And that price is: reasonable gun laws because of the NRA, a pragmatic tax system because of Mr. Norquist, a diversified education system because of Teacher’s Unions and a proactive energy policy because of environmental groups. The point being: regardless of the issue, regardless of the circumstances we as a country face, campaign contributions from fringe groups continue to dictate how our representative-democracy functions.

This polarization is why our swinging pendulum from one party to the next moves in such broad motions. In the last election cycle, this produced many one and two-term representatives from moderate states. This was true for one-term Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello, who voted for cap & trade, the stimulus package, and the 2010 healthcare bill. Perriello received political contributions from leftist environmental organizations, and numerous public and private sector labor unions. Is it any real mystery as to why the Congressman voted the way he did in a traditionally Republican Congressional district that selected him over a three-term GOP incumbent in 2008? It’s the obligations that our representatives owe to the groups and individuals that fund their political careers to which they owe allegiance, and not the constituents they serve.

If our pendulum is to gain any sort of stability, we have to start electing politicians that are devoted to constituents, not to their donors. If we expect our politicians to compromise and do what’s best for our country, we as Americans need to do our homework about where our politicians get their funding. From there, it needs to be made abundantly clear that we support reasonable action and compromise, not special-interest pandering.


James Padget

Third-year MGT