It is so easy to complain about the economy and health care. It is easy to blame our senators and representatives and to complain about the lobbyists who have nice expensive offices in Washington D.C. These lobbyists are well paid by interest groups ranging from pharmaceutical companies, banking and financial, health care, military industrial complex and many others. The voter gets the short end of the stick. I have emailed my concerns numerous times and I decided to be my own lobbyist.
It is time for those of us who can vote to take back our power. I went on-line to www.opensecrets.org, which is The Center for Responsible Politics. It was almost overwhelming to read their statistics based on the Federal Election Commission's statistics from 2007 – 2010 election cycles. According to this site and I am quoting: The primary goal of much of the money that flows through U.S. politics is this: "Influence. Corporations and industry groups, labor unions, single-issue organizations – together, they spend billions of dollars each year to gain access to decision-makers in government, all in an attempt to influence their thinking."
Most people do not understand the way contributions work from these groups. In Congress there is a Political Action Committee, i.e. PAC. Have you ever heard of PAC? According to The Center for Responsible Politics: "Politicians collect money for their own campaigns — we all know that. But many of them also raise a separate pot of money to help other politicians. Lacking a requirement that lawmakers disclose their affiliations with leadership PACs, these committees have been able to slip under the radar for years." You can go on-line and learn which senators and representatives have the PAC kitty and how much.
This gets down to the required report of campaign contributions and the web of contributions. Again, the Center for Responsible Politics states: "Clusters of campaign contributions from lobbyists and their clients clearly illustrate the intensity with which health-related organizations are attempting to influence Capitol Hill. Ultimately, dozens of hired health care lobbyists and their clients have in recent years created a notable -- and until now, largely unseen -- web of campaign contributions benefiting members of Congress. This database aims to reveal how the campaign donations of individual lobbyists enhance the political power of the organizations they're paid to represent. This extra giving by lobbyists doesn't necessarily indicate a planned or coordinated effort by health care firms to solidify their support among key members of Congress."
Between 2007 and the first half of 2009, Senator John McCain (R) is the top recipient from Health Care interests with 22 clients (and I am not sure who the clients are) of $427,530 and from 184 lobbyists $473,400. The second top recipient is Senator Mitch McConnell (R) with 14 clients of $237,722 and 127 lobbyists $237,722. Senator Max Baucus (D) is number three with 11 clients $252,750 and 109 lobbyists $200,899. It is a revelation to follow the money and understand the complexities of how influence works.
This appears to be obscene to most of us; however, we have given our power away over the years. Many people thought it was not worthwhile to vote and we have allowed the various interests with their lobbyists to govern us. Eisenhower, in his farewell speech when he left the White House warned of the military industrial complex. None of us followed up on this. We cannot blame our legislators for what has happened, because we have failed as a nation to let our voices be heard. We cannot blame our President. Now here we are Jill and Jack Voter and we wonder if anyone in Washington D.C. or our state capitol hears us.
Several days ago, I sent faxes to my national representative and two senators and asked, "Isn't it time to listen to your constituents?" This is when I decided to become my own lobbyist and the idea came to invite all the Jill and Jack Voters to join me in the I Am My Own Lobbyist movement.
Each of us has to become a committee of one. We pay no dues. We are our own chairperson and it is up to each of us to voice what we want to our government representatives. We are their constituents. It is time we influence their thinking and voice what we want. We have given our power away because we allowed others to usurp our place in influencing our senators and representatives.
I invite you to become part of this movement and recommend researching The Center for Responsive Politics at www.opensecrets.org. I ask that you do not shift the responsibility to others. As a non-partisan movement, we can make a difference. Please pass the word on to friends and relatives. Create bumper stickers stating, "I Am My Own Lobbyist" and write our senators and representatives, to the editors of newspapers and on blogs. It is not enough to let organizations such as Move On to get us to sign a petition. A valid petition must have the voter's name and address. We can still use Move On at www.moveon.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee at www.boldprogressive.org and other non-profit organizations to our benefit and sign these petitions if you want to, but do your own homework and take personal action.
Pass this on to family, friends, co-workers and anyone else you can think of to begin taking back the power of the voter. Every registered voter can be an "I Am My Own Lobbyist." Let us be creative in spreading the information by wearing pins that say "I Am My Own Lobbyist," bumper stickers, as well as blogs.