PLSC 083 Lobbying the Federal Government
October 22, 2001
Readings: Wolpe and Levine, Ch. 1-3.
Some notes on your papers:
Generally excellent introductions to your issues. A few
wrote too much about your issues and not enough about the theoretical
questions. As you revise the papers in view of the final term paper, keep this
in mind: 1) make the revisions and address the questions that I point out. 2)
focus on the theoretical questions first, case material in the middle part of
the paper, then return to the theoretical (and normative) questions in the
conclusion of the paper. 3) don’t forget to add more theoretical questions and
concerns as you continue to do your reading. You’ll find more from Wolpe and
Levine and other points that are worth discussing in relation to your case. So
you will expand and improve on this introduction before your final paper is
Notes on Light: Almost all of you thought it was a good idea
to keep logs, at least informally. One idea that did not come up: Keep track of
how you make it through the end of this semester. As term papers, exams,
presentations, and finals come due, plus the holidays approach, how are you
going to get through? Planning ahead is essential. Use this semester to learn
how to do that well. Second, many talked about the feasibility of getting to
know your professors. Many are skeptical that you can do it, though you seem to
agree that it is important. If it is important (and it is), then make it a
priority. Note the difference in talking to your professors about an upcoming
assignment, or just in general about courses, as opposed to complaints and
problems after the fact. You’ll find faculty much more approachable when it’s
about good things than about problems.
Wolpe and Levine:
p. 7. The “myth of mystery” in how policies are made. Do you
agree that this is a myth?
They give some reasons why things are not so much part of
secret deals. Does this correspond with Browne’s discussion? Some of their
lobbyists. (More issue-networks; fewer subgovernments.)
activity at the federal level rather than at state and local levels
news coverage and news outlets, including the web
other reasons you can think of why the system should be more open now than
a generation or two ago?
reasons why the opposite might be the case?
See table 6-1 from Baumgartner and Leech, Basic Interests,
distributed in class. This shows the growth of the number of associations in
America from 1959 to 1995. Also note how many of these were public affairs
rather than other types of groups. Other studies have confirmed what political
scientists call the “interest group explosion.” So that’s their first point;
it’s probably true.
They give three fundamentals for a lobbyist:
attention to details
all the relevant bases. Few policies can be adopted with just a small
number of supporters. (Note the difference between authorizing and
through on commitments. Reputations matter. (Note how this can make people
seem like “sell-outs” when they worry about their long-term reputation
rather than only the issue at stake. What do you think of that?)
Ch. 2. The Five Commandments
Promise more than you can deliver.
how to listen. What does this mean to you? “I want to be with you on
this.” “I think we should do something about this.” Are these weasel words
or can you count on them? Why are people so hesitant to commit?
with staff, not around them.
Ch. 3. The Fundamentals.
the Issue. People may not need to know your long-term goals. Get right to
the point about what you need and why it is good public policy that the
person would want to support.
the players. Which arguments will work with which people. (Does this gibe
with the previous advice to “tell the truth?”)
the committees. Note whether they have clear or shared jurisdictions and
what their different prejudices or constituencies are. Note that the
arguments that work in the first committee may not be very powerful in the
the public policy rationale behind current policy. (Note this particularly
for your issues. What is the reason we currently do what we do? Would all
involved, especially those who made this law, agree that it is stupid? How
does this relate to Browne’s discussion of what makes good and bad
policies? What are the reasons for status-quo bias?)
materials. One-pagers. (Why not longer?)
the client. (What can they do that the hired lobbyist cannot? How can this
be helpful? How can it be harmful? Should the Sierra Club involve only its
Washington professionals, or should they bring in amateur lobbyists from
around the country? What’s the dynamic here?)
outside when necessary. (Do all organizations have the resources to do
the opposition. (Is it your responsibility to tell your allies about who
will be opposed?)
solicitous of your allies. Don’t waste their time. (What do you think of
the rules of parliamentary procedure. (do these matter? Would you lose
credibility if you didn’t know them? How do you learn them? Do an
coalitions. (Sound familiar? Lobby other lobbyists to join you.)
attention to both parties. Many members only know what their own caucus is
basic courtesies. (Why not be a continual outsider?)
What themes can you discern from these authors’ pieces of
advice? Do they seem to be bomb-throwers or insiders? Long-term or short-term
players? Note that their perspective leads to advice that may be useful for
them but less useful for other types of actors.