Money talks. Money talks loudly on Capitol Hill — money screams in the ears of our lawmakers.
It’s no wonder our country struggles with voter apathy, particularly in young voters. When voters watch politicians they elected spend a majority of their time with certain professional lobbyists and interest group activists, they are likely to feel discouraged and eventually apathetic.
Voters didn’t elect lobbyists and activists to political positions with the power to affect our country’s laws, but certain ones have the money to whisper political strategies and decisions into the ears of some of our less sincere lawmakers. Because recent media coverage has exposed this controversy, young voters are susceptible to apathetic views about their ability to affect politics through voting. Having worked in the public policy office of the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, I understand the importance of advocacy work, especially for groups whose voices are quiet — if not non-existent — on the Hill. I realize lobbying is not only part of the political machinery but also necessary for the machine to work.
Congressmen don’t have the time to thoroughly read all the bills that are written and introduced (or read them at all in many cases).
They have to rely on their legislative assistants and on corresponding advocacy groups to keep them informed. Unfortunately, as important as NCADV’s lobbying is for domestic violence victims, we were often ignored because NCADV, like many other non-profit organizations, doesn’t have money to throw at Congressmen. Representative John Boehner, the House minority leader from Ohio, manipulates the system of lobbying for his political benefit.
Like a child scared to live on his own, Boehner clings to his favorite lobbyists and big business representatives who “have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his ‘Boehner for Speaker campaign,’ which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed,” the New York Times reports.
In 1996, Boehner was caught passing out checks to Republicans on the House floor from tobacco lobbyists and claimed “he had broken no rules and was simply assisting his lobbyist friends, who were contributing to other Republicans’ campaigns.”
These alliances are just business moves to Boehner. To a voter, they are power-hungry interest groups puppeteering a politician who is willing to advance any person’s agenda as long as his pockets are full of the person’s money. Boehner attempts to defend his suspicious political action by saying that a variety of people, using his bellman as one example, lobby him all the time. Boehner, does your bellman let you use his or her corporate jet?
Boehner didn’t raise $36 million for the Republicans this election cycle by spending time listening to advocates without money. This exclusivity returns us to a time when only white, upper class, well-educated males had a voice in politics, and their political decisions were made in a secretive, extremely un-democratic way.
Voters elect politicians to Congress to represent their values, not to work exclusively with rich businessmen willing to pay for political movement.I’m not surprised then that voters are apathetic, knowing their views won’t be considered, at least not by Boehner and other Congressmen like him.
Before Nov. 2 arrives, research your politicians’ records. Many, including Boehner, are notorious for representing special-interest groups because of the money those groups contribute.
Although having a network of donors and lobbyists is common in the political world, some politicians maintain unnervingly deep loyalties to their contributors. Don’t let apathy keep you from voting this year. We need to ensure the politicians who sincerely represent their constituents hold positions in office.