Here’s Why Most Americans Misunderstand Lobbying


You have seen the polls indicating how very little the average American thinks of the ruling class. Our state and federal legislators continue to be subject to historically low approval ratings while politics, in general, is seen as one of the most dishonest professions in the world. Lobbyists are often lumped in with the politicians, which isn’t a good thing.

Lobbying has been part of American politics since the earliest days of our founding. And yet, very few people truly understand how lobbying works. That means they also do not realize how necessary lobbying groups like Utah’s Statehouse Partners are to a government that relies on representation.

It might be useful to explore why Americans misunderstand lobbying. If we can figure that out and correct it, we have a shot at cleaning up politics. Otherwise, a select few will continue to dominate the political landscape for generations to come.

Political Science No Longer Taught

If you are a Utah resident, how much do you know about what goes on in terms of government relations in Salt Lake City? If you live in New York, how much do you really know about the machinations in Albany? How much to any of us really understand about what goes on in Washington?

In the old days, political science was taught in high school. Kids learned how a bill becomes a law. They learned how senators and representatives are elected. They learned how our founding fathers set up a three-branch system of government with separated powers.

One of the big reasons Americans misunderstand lobbying is because they have never been taught how government is supposed to work. They do not understand that give and take are necessary in a government that operates on competing interests.

Sensational News Reporting Sours Discussions

Adding to the ignorance of America’s political system is sensational news reporting that seems to sour every discussion we try to have. Let’s face it, journalism is a business that requires an audience to make money. News organizations love sensational headlines because they attract customers.

Scour the news and you are unlikely to find very many positive stories about lobbying, if any at all. This is concerning. No topic, regardless of how controversial it is, is one-sided. Most lobbyists do very good work that benefits a large number of Americans. We never hear about those stories because they are not sensational enough.

Corporate Dominance of Lobbying

Last but not least, people misunderstand lobbying because all they know about it revolves around corporate dominance. The Washington Post’s Lee Drutman wrote an article on this very topic back in 2015. In that article, Drutman made a compelling case that a small number of corporate lobbyists have taken over to the extent that they are squelching smaller lobbying groups and individuals. This is all many people know.

Lobbying is a necessary part of our political system. If more people understood what it was all about, they might have a very different perception about what lobbyists to.

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