The Obama team promised a more transparent administration. How long they can keep that up, I’m not sure, but for the moment they are publishing all the papers submitted to them from various special interest groups. I roamed through them the other day, and there are hundreds representing every conceivable voice of public interest with, what looked like to me, a heavy emphasis on early childhood health and education, environmental protection, and technological innovation. Missing from the lineup were proposals from conservative business interests such as the U.S. Chamber, NAM and NFIB. More focused groups like the bankers and realtors also seemed to be silent, as well as the operatives from the very large “K Street” lobbying firms (except those working for Boeing).
One thing we tend to forget when we rail against the voice of special interests is that we are a part of at least some of those voices because they do represent what we believe and the policies we would like to see enacted. We need organized special interest groups. Getting the ear of a member of Congress is not all that easy. I write letters to mine all the time, and what I get back are generic boiler plate responses sent out by some over worked and bored staffer or intern. The weight of my opinion is measured in pounds, as in: “Boss, you got ten pounds of mail against and five pounds for.” It helps to get our voices organized, coordinated, focused and forcefully represented to our representatives, and that’s where all the associations and lobbying organizations come in.
What I see right now is that the powerful voices of the less wealthy and less well funded interests are making the biggest impact early in the game. No doubt the big money types are biding their time until all the little people get tired and go home so they can resume operations as usual. If Obama sticks to his commitments, and we stick to making our voices heard early and often, that will not easily happen.