Lobbying in some form is inevitable in any political system. Read complete definition and meaning of Lobbying.
Technically speaking, according to Britannica Encyclopedia, lobbying is defined as any attempt by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions of government; in its original meaning it referred to efforts to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside the legislative chamber. Lobbying in some form is inevitable in any political system.
Because the lobbying profession is so little understood, it is often viewed as a sinister function, yet every "mom and apple pie" interest in the United States uses lobbyists - a fact little known by the general public.
Simply put, lobbying is advocacy of a point of view, either by groups or individuals. A special interest is nothing more than an identified group expressing a point of view - be it colleges and universities, churches, charities, public interest or environmental groups, senior citizens organizations, even state, local or foreign governments. While most people think of lobbyists only as paid professionals, there are also many independent, volunteer lobbyists - all of whom are protected by the same First Amendment.
Lobbying involves much more than persuading legislators. Its principal elements include researching and analyzing legislation or regulatory proposals; monitoring and reporting on developments; attending congressional or regulatory hearings; working with coalitions interested in the same issues; and then educating not only government officials but also employees and corporate officers as to the implications of various changes.
What most lay people regard as lobbying - the actual communication with government officials - represents the smallest portion of a lobbyist's time; a far greater proportion is devoted to the other aspects of preparation, information and communication.
Government decisions affect both people and organizations, and information must be provided in order to produce informed decisions. Public officials cannot make fair and informed decisions without considering information from a broad range of interested parties. All sides of an issue must be explored in order to produce equitable government policies.
Lobbying, which has gained special attention in the United States, takes many forms. Group representatives may appear before legislative committees. Public officials may be "buttonholed" in legislative offices, hotels, or private homes. Letters may be written or telephone calls made to public officials, and campaigns may be organized for this purpose.
Organizations may provide favoured candidates with money and services. Massive public-relations campaigns employing all the techniques of modern communication may be launched to influence public opinion. Extensive research into complex legislative proposals may be supplied to legislative committees by advocates of various and often conflicting interests.
Substantial election campaign contributions or other assistance may be supplied to favoured legislators or executives. The persons who lobby in these ways may be full-time officials of a powerful trade or agricultural association or labour union, individual professional lobbyists with many clients who pay for their services, or ordinary citizens who take the time to state their hopes or grievances.
Cities and states, consumer and environmental protection and other "public interest" groups, and various branches of the federal government also maintain staff lobbyists in the United States.
The right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances" is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The federal government and the majority of U.S. states regulate lobbying. Most laws, such as the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946), require that lobbyists register and report contributions and expenditures and that groups whom they represent make similar reports.
The efficacy of these laws is doubtful. Especially difficult to regulate is any kind of indirect lobbying-such as group activity designed to influence government by shaping public opinion.
The practice of lobbying provides a forum for the resolution of conflicts among often diverse and competing points of view; provides information, analysis, and opinion to legislators and government leaders to allow for informed and balanced decision making; and creates a system of checks and balances that allows for competition among interest groups, keeping any one group from attaining a permanent position of power.
Lobbyists can help the legislative process work more effectively by providing lawmakers with reliable data and accurate assessments of a bill's effect.
The role lobbyists play in the legislative arena can be compared to that of lawyers in the judicial arena. Just as lawyers provide the trier of fact (judge or jury) with points of view on the legal issues pertaining to a case, so do lobbyists provide local, state, and federal policymakers with points of view on public policy issues.
Although lobbying as a whole serves as a checks-and-balances safeguard on the legislative process, individual lobbyists are not necessarily equal. Unlike voters, who each get one vote, lobbyists vary in their degree of influence. The level of influence a lobbyist has over the legislative process is often proportional to the resources-time and money-the lobbyist can spend to achieve its legislative goal.
Some people think lobbyists in general have too much power. During his 1912 campaign for president, woodrow wilson remarked, "The government of the United States is a foster child of the special interests. It is not allowed to have a will of its own."
The term lobbyist has been traced to the mid-seventeenth century, when citizens would gather in a large lobby near the English House of Commons to express their views to members of Parliament. By the early nineteenth century, the term lobby-agent had come to the United States, where it was applied to citizens seeking legislative favors in the New York Capitol lobby, in Albany. By 1832 it had been shortened to lobbyist and was widely used at the U.S. Capitol.
In the early 2000s lobbyists practice their trade not only in the halls of the U.S. Capitol and the corridors of state legislatures, but also on playgrounds, in boardrooms, in manufacturing plants, at cocktail parties, and in retirement homes. Contemporary lobbying methods include political action committees, high-tech communication techniques, coalitions among groups and industries sharing the same political goals, and campaigns to mobilize constituents at the grassroots level.
Lobbyists include schoolchildren who want to prevent their favorite neighborhood park from becoming a shopping mall, corporations who contribute to a particular legislator's campaign, lawyers who speak with legislators on behalf of their clients' business interests, cities who lobby the state legislature for changes in transportation laws, presidential aides who suggest new amendment language to congressional committee members, retired persons who want to save their government benefits, and many others.
Each type of lobbyist attempts to win support for a particular point of view.
Samuel Ward, a well-respected lobbyist, was so successful at influencing legislators that in the mid-1800s Congress decided to investigate him. When questioned about the elegant dinners he orchestrated for politicians, the self-described King of the Lobby said, "At good dinners people do not talk shop, but they give people a right, perhaps, to ask a gentleman a civil question and get a civil answer."
Despite the noncorrupt success of lobbyists such as Ward, lobbyists during the mid-nineteenth century were often regarded as ethically questionable individuals. This reputation was enhanced whenever lobbyists abused their position with improper practices such as bribing members of Congress.