There are two normal explanations of lobbyist. I’m going to introduce a third one.
The explanation that left-leaning pundits usually give is that lobbyists are people who work for big corporations and bribe Congressmen. It’s the big organization against the little guy, and the little guy has no chance. The explanation that right-leaning pundits usually give is that lobbyists are those people, and it’s also people for groups like the NRA and the Family Research Council, and they’re around to represent you.
Hold that thought.
We at TNB have set up a site to promote discussion of the news from a freedom-oriented point of view. That does not mean we all agree about everything, but it does mean we have come together because we agree on certain fundamental things. There are the obvious things that the Founders came together about… life, liberty, property, a system of government that understands that power flows from the individual to the state. There are less obvious things. One of those is civility.
We have a filtering system that flags certain words. This is not out of puckish humor, nor out of a fear of violating political correctness. It stems from a belief that people, even those we disagree with, retain a basic worth as people and that dehumanizing them does not diminish conflict but instead enhances it. If we are to rally behind “e pluribus unum” we must be willing to talk to others as equals.
There’s an elephant in this room, and his name is something like “Trumphumper”. People who have been paying attention might notice that’s the first time that word has been used in any story on TNB. That’s because we’re trying, hard, to keep personal attacks out of both opinions and op-eds. We’ve also been trying to keep them out of the comment sections. But we are biased, just as anyone is, and some of us are still irritated by the petty attacks thrown our way for the past two years. It’s become a matter of course to use derisive terms to attack a group that is acting like an enemy.
That said, it doesn’t help expand the conversation.
Part of the reason this site exists is to try to convince people to come to the side of individual liberty over the lockstep promotion of party. That’s not to say we don’t welcome people who always vote with a particular party, but rather that we want to encourage people to do so, every time, out of what a particular politician may be doing rather than simply because of the letter that accompanies their name on a ballot. One of the fastest ways to ensure a person stops listening to you is to attack them personally. That is a practical reason, additive to the moral one, to try to avoid attacking people.
Here’s where the lobbying comes in. See that little button over on the column on the top right side of the page? It’s asking for donations. According to free market economics, people aren’t going to participate in any transaction without getting something in return. What does anyone donating get in return? A feeling of participation.
You know what else buys that feeling of participation? Participating. Guest pieces submitted, chiming in at the comment section, recommending and/or retweeting and posting one of our pieces up on Facebook or any other social media site.
This is another facet of lobbying. When you see someone doing something you want to support, and you support them. Whether with words, actions, money, or even thoughts & prayers. And in return, you get the satisfaction of being part of something that you appreciate.
You also earn our trust, even as we strive to earn yours. The moderators can’t be everywhere at all times; without guest pieces and new volunteer writers we’d quickly be at the end of our rope; and the comment sections are made a place of discussion both welcoming and earnest because of the contributions of our readers. More often than not, you help keep everything running according to the principles we’ve expressed.
But that brings us to the ugly side of lobbying: preference. Ultimately, people are coming here because they believe in what we’re doing. We’re putting in hours in front of the keyboard because we believe in what we’re doing. And what we’re doing is pretty straightforward.
So, if you’re attacking someone who’s pro-Trump or pro-Democrat, if you’re issuing slurs against whites, blacks, Asians, Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Athiests, Greens, Libertarians, etc… and you get carded or given a short ban, what we’re doing is exactly what most of us have always expected officials to do with lobbyists. They appreciate them. They value them. They ask their opinions on upcoming events. They give them a voice and a platform. But they do not change their core principles for them, because those principles were what convinced the lobbyists to stand with them in the first place.
Even if you happen to be a famous name who can drive traffic to our site or a wealthy donor like a Houston billionaire, we’re not going to modify our content for you or allow your supporters extra leeway. Standing on principle was why this site was founded.
Participation in any form is very much appreciated. Even something as simple as a response disagreeing or agreeing with a premise or flagging an article as recommended means a lot to us. But as much as we might enjoy someone’s presence, we will try not to let that preference affect the way we enforce the rules. That is our part of the compact.