Op-Ed: Lobbying in America

Emma Duffy, Staff Writer

In United States history courses we learn all about big business influencing government decisions in the past, but how about the present? During the Gilded Age, large corporations began to invest money into politicians to ensure their interests were protected. As a country, we like to believe that this practice was put in the past after laws were formulated against it. But, can we really be so dense to believe this is true?

There are still a plethora of companies that donate money to politicians in order to influence the government to go along with the laws that they support. In 2018, the National Rifle Association (NRA) alone donated almost a million dollars to politicians (98% of which were Republicans). It is easy to deduce that they went on this financial expenditure due to the hot debate of gun control laws,  meaning that their money is one of the  reasons why guns keep getting into the hands of mass murderers.  The NRA is not alone in this matter, as many companies in the oil industry are also doing the same thing to combat climate laws that will seemingly save the planet. In fact, they spent  an exponentially greater amount;  in 2019 alone BP spent $53 million, Shell spent $49 million, and Exxon Mobil spent $41 million, while Chevron and Total both separately spent $29 million. No wonder politicians idly stand  by while natural disasters become more dangerous and frequent and water becomes unfit to drink. But thanks for the thoughts and prayers. 

The only way to ensure that big business is truly out of politics is to make laws that prevent interference. Of course it is important for all democracies to have civic participation; however, this lobbying puts a skewed amount of power in the hands of rich powerful business people and not in the hands of average citizens. Democracy was formed to give to every citizen a say in government (even if the execution was not there). By allowing these rich companies to have the upperhand, the balance of power is disturbed.  Equal participation must be restored to optimize the ideal American republic.