I’m attending a MoveOn.org public meeting tonight (6:30 pm at Washington High!) about how to take on corporate lobbyists. I say we fight fire with fire: Couldn’t we liberal Portlanders hire our own lobbyists to counter those working for death-dealing corporations?
—The Greek Riot Dog
You may not have noticed, what with all the state-smashing and dominant-paradigm-subverting, but you’ve already got lobbyists. Portland retains several of these oft-misunderstood creatures, who scurry tirelessly through the halls of power, promoting our civic interests at the state and federal level while stuffing their cheek pouches with tasty seeds.
Granted, Portland’s lobbying is more focused on regulatory variances and federal transit dollars than on grand, sweeping reforms. But the agenda does include a jobs bill and climate legislation tucked in among the brownfield initiatives and water-treatment rules.
Notwithstanding their sinister reputation, corporate lobbyists’ goals are also fairly dry and specific. After all, “repeal x regulation, land y government contract” is a more realistic goal than “deal death, crush humanity’s spirit” (which is more like a mission statement). In that sense, we’re already fighting fire with fire.
Martha Pellegrino of Portland’s Office of Government Relations suggests we may even have the upper hand, since “public-sector lobbying has strengths the private sector doesn’t.” These strengths presumably include the common good, truth, justice, etc.
Of course, corporate lobbyists’ countervailing strengths include the ability to spread campaign cash around, which public lobbyists can’t do. Predicting the result of this battle between justice and money is left as an exercise for the reader.