I’ve long held that the most powerful force in the country right now are lobbyists. And the lobbyist’s lobbyists are the NRA’s lobbyists.
People always ask the boring ol’ question, “What would do you do if you won the lottery or a genie granted you one wish.”(For the record if I won the lottery I’d start a Progressive think tank that attacks right wing think tanks. If it was a genie I’d like a working spaceship.) But what would you do if you had NRA’s lobbyist power at your fingertips? I know what I’d do. I’d hire them to work against the weapons manufacturers and the NRA’s leadership.
I ask this question because on Thursday at 12:00 Noon EDT my buddy Cliff Schecter and a great group of people are protesting the K-Street Lobbyists in DC who are paid by the weapons manufacturers and the NRA to subvert the will of the people.
WASHINGTON, DC –Riding a wave of public anger at the Senate’s failure to pass even minimal gun control legislation, a coalition of activists, advocates and campaign finance reformers will lead a march on Washington firearms lobbyists this Thursday, April 25 at NOON. The goal is to drag the lobbyists out of the shadows where they prefer to operate and expose exactly how the National Rifle Association subverts democracy.
The event will begin with a news conference in McPherson Square, where gun violence prevention leaders will lay out the web of influence controlled by the NRA and unveil a new anti-NRA artwork by Shepard Fairey, who produced the most memorable image of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The protest will then move along the K Street corridor, symbolically holding up giant checks from the NRA made out to key lobbying firms and delivering crime-scene photos illustrating the devastating effects of gun violence to those firms’ offices.
(More here at The Political Carnival)
Now you’ve all heard the old saying, “Nobody is the villain in their own life narrative.” I’m sure that the people who convinced the senators to defy the desires of 90% of their constituents don’t think they are doing a bad thing. When I get the photos from the event I’ll put up pictures of the big checks made out to their firms. (“You are already a winner Mr. NRA Lobbyist!”)
Did you ever see the movie, Thank You for Smoking? It’s based on a very funny book written by the only funny conservative I know, Christopher Buckley. It’s about a tobacco lobbyist and how he convinces himself that what he is doing is right, and how it pays his mortgage. He works with two other lobbyists. One for the gun lobby and another for the liquor industry. They call themselves the MOD squad for Merchants Of Death.
The other day I was telling my friend Cary Grant (not his real name) about how sad, but unsurprised, I was that the NRA lobbyists had ensured that the Senate couldn’t pass a bill to increase gun safety. He said, “Why don’t you become a lobbyist?”
That kind of blew me away. I’ve been fascinated with the power of lobbyists for awhile now and like to hear and read stories how it’s “really done.” Not the TV versions, but the behind the scenes stuff where someone sends you a check for 200 million dollars and says, “Block this bill” or “Get the votes for this bill to pass, don’t tell me how you do it, just do it!” and then the team sits down, plans the strategy and then starts setting up meetings for doling out money to politicians, belief tanks, writers, pollsters, golf trips and restaurants.
I’ll bet there are the Power Point presentations with statistics and 3D Graphics with great ideas for Op-Eds to write. Do they still use hookers and blow these days? Do they come up with bumper sticker slogans? Catch phrases? (“When seconds count the police are only minutes away!” Is my current favorite.) I know they set up fake grass roots groups, I’m sure they have social media methods to amplify the words of true believers beyond their actual numbers.
They really are powerful, and if they are anything like the rich powerful people I know, they are pretty thin skinned and try hard not to be self reflective. So they will ignore the protest, won’t look at the giant checks with their names on it or the photos of the kid killed by guns. Why? Because 1) these people aren’t paying them 2) they are depressing. 3) mortgage is due every month.
Nobody wants to see pictures of dead kids mangled by guns, that’s so pre-Boston marathon. (BTW, I just watched the movie 9/11: The Falling Man and I wonder if seeing photos from Sandy Hook would have made a difference in the vote. I think showing them to the public wouldn’t have made a difference, but what if they were shown to the NRA lobbyists and our “representatives?”)
Now to do some lobbying jobs you need a certain amount of moral and intellectual flexibility, especially if you don’t believe in what the client is pushing. But most people doing this are either believers or can rationalize the belief for the mortgage.
I’m not going to throw stones at anyone (or should I say throw bullets?) I have my price, it’s in Quatloos, but I have one. If I was them instead of focusing on all the damage that weapons do, I’d focus on what I saw as all the good that they do. I’d never want to focus on the dead for three reasons. 1) They aren’t paying me. 2) they are depressing. 3) Mortgage. So I’d focus on positive things and abstract things. Don’t think of the 10′s of thousands of dead, think of the millions of non-dead. Don’t think of today’s headline dead: