Saturday, February 5, 2011

The right to petition government

I had an interesting aside with a person this week about my former role in life as a lobbyist. Their take was that it was a very cloaked and nefarious role in society. I explained that one of the rights installed into the US Constitution was a right to petition our government. You can see the tea party movement as a mass lobbying effort in sending the message that Americans are a bit put out over the direction of our country and the general perfomance of our electorate. The results have been newsworthy as there have been more than one career politician who spat in the face of the teapartiers and was sent packing.

I read a book provided to me by a very bright friend when I was first appointed as the guy who directed lobbying for the firm I worked for. It was called The Third House. It was a history of lobbying in the Florida Legislature over about a fifty year history. The obvious emphasis was that there was the senate, the house and the lobbying corps. The fact is that the third house is effective and strong and a force to be reckoned with.

Examples are the National Rifle Association, National Education Association, American Medical Association, United Auto Workers, American Heart Association, Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers Association, American Trial Lawyers. The list goes on and on. They influence legislation and regulation and generally watch the back pockets of the interests of their membership. One small little piece of legislation can have devastating effects on business interests. One interpretation of a law and the implementation of regulation by a local or state adminstrative board can lay a company low.

Do yourself a favor and look up You will see on that website a link to all the registered lobbyists that will camp out as the Florida legislature moves into session. They will number into the thousands. As we progress through the session you will see various ads in print and in the broadcast media advising you that so and so wants to take away your right to have your nose tickled by a feather. If you are concerned about that then call your legislator immediately. Those are ads that are put together in grassroots, coalition building venues to influence outcomes. They are paid for by private interests who stand to have their back pockets hit if a piece of legislation becomes law.

Right or wrong that is just the way it is. The framers of our constitution knew that process would be necessary and preserved it for us in language that assures the people the right to petition their government. If you move to Iran or elsewhere you could have your tongue removed for speaking ill of the dictator dujour. Here in America that right is a small part of what makes this republic of ours work

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