Political Equality – Marching vs Lobbying?
In Capitalist America everything seems to be “for sale,” but what about the Government? In 2006, according to The Center For Responsive Politics, corporations, labor unions, and other organizations spent .6 billion to”lobby” Congress and all other federal agencies.
Who spent the most money trying to convince law makers to support their cause? Exxon Mobil, the oil and gas giant came in No. 8, handing out more than .5 million. “Big tobacco’s” Altria Group (formerly Phillip Morris) was No. 14, spending about million. The No.1 spender was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business group who spent million on government lobbying. The great Dale Carnegie once said “in order to get anybody to do anything, you have to give them what they want,” and it seems like the government wants – MONEY!
Black Americans wanted equal rights and so we marched, protested and made so much noise – we got the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Fast forward forty three years, and if we see any racial injustices, again we march, protest and make political noise to protect our people. However, just like after watching a horror movie so many times, since you know what’s coming you are no longer scared.
The political noise of protesting and marching is beginning to fall on deaf ears in Congress and with the President. Not to mention, since they have seen the “Black Americans Marching Movie” so many times they are probably no longer scared either. But that does not that mean we should stop marching. No, I think we must continue to march and protest whenever we witness injustice, but if we truly want to get Congress and the President to do anything we must speak their language and give them what they want – The Almighty Dollar!
As stated above, corporations spend millions to persuade congress and other elected officials to support their financial causes, but ethnic organizations are also playing the lobby game.
According to Fortune magazine, the most powerful ethnic special interest group is the Jewish organization called the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
It has been said that their is a Jewish conspiracy to take over America, but apparently AIPAC has nothing to hide because their political objectives and successes are all publicly displayed on their website. AIPAC reportedly has 100,000 members and annual budget of million. Their stated purpose is to lobby the Congress of the United States on issues and legislation that are pro-Israel. They maintain a staff of 200 professional lobbyist, researchers, and organizers who have strong political ties to Congress.
Since 1990, AIPAC has spent about million in individual, group and soft money donations to federal candidates and party committees. It’s no wonder the United States shares military intelligence and provides foreign military and economic aid to Israel, totaling .46 billion in 2007. This is no one-time financial aid package! Israel receives about billion a year in economic and military aid – one of the many political successes accomplished by AIPAC as listed on its website.
Who are the major political organizations that lobby the U.S. Government to protect the interest of Black Americans? Historically, the most famous and influential black organization is the NAACP. With a current membership of about 300,000 Black Americans and an estimated million annual budget, the NAACP focuses on politics, legal cases, and other activities that affect Black Americans. Plagued by social and financial scandals during the 90’s, the NAACP was 3.2 million in debt and some questioned the relevancy of the organization.
“I’m concerned that, on the ground, the NAACP is increasingly irrelevant to the issues Black folk face on a daily basis”, stated Shavar Jeffries, a black columnist for blackprof.com. Since 1999, the NAACP has spent less than million on lobbying the U.S. government for its legal defense fund, compared to AIPAC’s .2 million. Currently in 2007 the NAACP has spent a mere 0,000 compared to AIPAC’s million. Okay, let’s get off the NAACP for now and discover if any other black organizations are playing the lobby game.
Another one of the most powerful black organizations is the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The CBC is comprised of forty-three active congress-persons including presidential candidate Barack Obama. Having forty three congress-persons on our team sounds good and we can assume since they are congress-persons they will lobby on our behalf, but with only an average annual budget of million, it may be difficult. The objective of the CBC is to address the legislative concerns of black and minority citizens and it appears to spend most of it’s revenue on the various programs and services it provides to Black Americans across the country. No lobbying expenses could be found.
Next up? The National Urban League (NUL) is the nation’s oldest and largest community- based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. With over 100 affiliate offices, thousands of volunteers and about a million annual budget, the NUL’s economic programs helped more than 270,000 people find jobs, buy homes, expand their own businesses, and save for retirement. And while the NUL does a wonderful job economically empowering Black Americans only ,000 was spent on lobbying in 2006.
Potentially one of the most powerful black organizations is the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. (NBC). With over 7.5 million members and a million annual budget, this group could really generate some political capital by sheer numbers alone. The NBC is currently lobbying Congress to withdraw soldiers from Iraq and in the past has publicly opposed the nomination of any Federal Judge who would set back the gains of equality of African Americans, and they also supported the Public Safety Ex-Offender Self-Sufficiency Act, which would allow churches to structure a living environment to help ex-criminal offenders become self-sufficient. According to the Center for Responsive Politics there was no data available on lobbying by the NBC.
There are roughly 5.5 million Jewish people in the U.S. (2% of the U.S. population), yet they have effectively been able to influence the federal government by organizing their people to vote in high turnouts, creating respectable political entities like (AIPAC) and spending about million a year on lobbying for Pro-Israel issues. Compare that to the 38 million Black Americans, who spend less than million annually on lobbying.
While Blacks have had huge success in marching and protesting in the United States we must learn how to devise a strategic lobbying plan which will focus on persuading the U.S. government to protect our interest!
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James “Bird” Guess
President & Founder
The Black Economy.com