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Essay/Term paper: Votes for sale

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Society

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Votes For Sale


According to the Associated Press, lobbyist donated 633 million dollars to government representatives in the first half of 1999. A lobbyist"s job is to pass money to representatives for a vote in their favor of a bill. Up to $5000 may be given to any one congressman by a lobbyist thru Political Action Committees (PACs). Farmers, laborers, gun control activists, abortion opponents, and teachers are just a few of the numerous groups who form these committees in the United States. These interest groups employ a lobbyist to offer a cash donation on their behalf. The legislative branch of the United States government was designed to represent citizens of this nation. Congressional members are supposed to be the representatives of people in their district or state. Laws are supposed to be passed in the public"s best interest. PACs attempt to influence the passing of laws through lobbyists. Lobbyists degrade democracy, encourage improper policymaking, and likely provoke political corruption.
The most obvious downfall to lobbying is that representatives would be encouraged to vote for money; causing a degradation of democracy. In other words, if a pro-life group paid a representative to vote against legalizing abortion the money would influence the representative"s vote. Whether or not a bill is passed becomes an issue of who is willing and able to pay more for it. Congressmen would look to vote for bills that would get them the most money from the PACs. Even though $5,000 is the maximum donation a lobbyists can give to one particular politician; lobbyists donate to several. This can give them the upper hand in a majority decision. Lobbyists believe they are representing the people and getting bills passed that the people want, thus promoting the citizen"s role in the government. The problem with this view is that the money is getting more representation than the people are. The group that has the most money and buys the most votes will get more bills



passed in their favor, regardless if they are the majority or not. This takes away from the democratic process; not allowing all the people"s votes to count. A representative should vote for those who
elected him not those who pay him the most. When a representative"s vote is influenced by money the fundamentals of democracy are defeated.
Secondly, representatives benefit directly from lobbyist"s donations. Therefore, representatives will use improper policymaking to assure a lobbyist"s cause is ratified. For instance, if a gun control activist donates to a state representative with the intent to make purchasing handguns easier, then that representative will exercise his political power of policymaking to assure it takes place. Supporters of lobbyists justify their action by pointing out the fact that all donations are recorded. However, reports show there are a number of gifts and donations that go unreported. Supporters of lobbyist attempt to use the lobbying disclosure law to defend this practice. The law requires all donations be publicly documented. This is simply used to cover the backs of congressmen, making it appear that they are in favor of strict monitoring of money and gifts received from lobbyists. Newt Gingrich went as far to say that anything is fine so long as everything is documented, thus giving much leeway to lobbyists.
Finally, relinquishing a money donation is not something a representative would do. He"s going to take the money and vote in favor of a particular lobbyist in order to keep getting money from him in the future, thus lobbyists encourage political corruption. The view taken by supporters of lobbyists is that donations do not finalize the vote of the representative. The representative still maintains the choice to vote for or against a lobbyist that has made a donation. Realistically, if a representative votes against a donating lobbyist he would be giving up the chance to continue receiving money from that particular lobbyist. This betrayal might cause other lobbyists to avoid that representative knowing he might take the money and not vote in their favor. Giving up potential money in donations is not



something that a representative would seriously consider. Therefore, the money will cause corruption on the part of the representative.
Those who have the most money have the most power. At least that is what the practice of lobbying promotes. PACs who control the majority and most expensive lobbyists have a great deal of influence in the bills that pass the government. Lobbying results in the passing of bills that benefit only those few and Congress is getting paid to do it. Lobbying is a form of legalized bribery, results in selfish politics, and is stealing votes from the general public in favor of rich corporations.

 

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