Written by Colin Parks- Manager, Institute on Business and Government Affairs
Lions, Tigers, and LOBBYISTS! OH MY! For many, the term lobbyist evokes images of backroom dealings, shady plots to subvert the noble order of “Mr. Smith’s” Washington, and corporate moguls scheming to exploit the political process at the expense of the American people. It’s a depiction that seems all too real in Frank Underwood’s sordid political landscape in which his chilling words haunt our imagination and cripple our faith in the American system: “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.”
While House of Cards might tantalize our imagination and reinforce our most cynical views of politics, the reality could not be further from the truth. The REAL Washington, among other things, is the ultimate nexus of business and policy in which lobbyists or government affairs professionals work tirelessly and honestly to forge healthy and sustainable bonds between the public and private sector in pursuit of lasting economic prosperity for our country.
Guided by a strong code of ethics and a deep appreciation for the democratic process, Washington’s 35,000 strong lobbying community represents virtually every type of industry and business interest imaginable. “K Street” as it is commonly referred to by Washington insiders, is not the lion’s den of Frank Underwood’s distorted political fantasy, but rather the hub of legitimate political advocacy on the part of businesses of every kind to secure the best for their clients and consumers. An integral part of the democratic process and a constitutionally guaranteed right, lobbying encourages government accountability, promotes sound public policy, and protects the vital interests of the business community, which by extension helps to further the economic wellbeing of the American people.
For students participating in the Institute on Business and Government Affairs, such nefarious images of villainous lobbyists and politicians run amuck will quickly be dispelled. Instead, you’ll experience the government affairs community as it truly is: the vanguard of public policy and the engine of economic prosperity.
For more information on the rewarding field of government affairs, check out the resources below: