A city full of green


Robert G. Drummer has been a lobbyist for a long time. He represents the American Moving and Storage Association and the City of Atlanta. But one thing has not changed since he first left Capitol Hill as an aide in 1995: the number of African American lobbyists like himself has remained remarkably small.

But none of these analyses account for the basic, embarrassing fact of the shockingly low number of African American lobbyists.

Count me in the camp who considers this a small issue. I’m willing to concede that the issue of lobbying and lobbyists isn’t so simple that dismissing this fact without discussion is justified. As such, I’ll entertain this:

There will be people who will think it’s wonderful that blacks have been able to stay away from so tainted a vocation. I disagree. Lobbyists are integral to the process that produces our nation’s laws and regulations. When any group is not at the bargaining table, everyone suffers. And like it or not, lobbyists are among the most important folks at that table.

Lobbyists shouldn’t be the most important folks, which is what puts me on the opposite side of seeing this “under-representation” as a problem. Sure, it’s unfair and probably says a lot about the industry. Yet, I can’t get beyond the idea that, if I accept these conditions, then what? What must we do to correct this supposed injustice? What policy implications result, further entrenching feeding at the public trough for issues that have no basis in federal responsibilities other than the made-up interpretations of our Constitution we accept? When any group is at the bargaining table, everyone suffers. That shouldn’t be too difficult to understand.

It doesn’t make sense to reduce the influence of lobbyists while increasing the diversity of lobbyists. Senators and representatives should be interacting with their constituents, not the American Moving and Storage Association. If they stick to their legitimate responsibilities, they’ll have no trouble discovering things to do. That scares me enough. I don’t need extra influence-peddling on top of that.