This “Speed Dating” nonsense to raise money for political parties is a necessary evil of our system. I know that money is the mother’s milk of politics, but do they have to make it seem like a night out at the Bunny Ranch? The idea that you not only can, but must, buy access to elected officials makes them seem no better than hookers. I take that back: At least hookers are honest. Hookers don’t pretend to be your friend. It’s all about the cash.
You have to ask yourself a simple question. If you were not trying to buy influence, why would you give a dime to any of these guys? Imagine the following conversation. Then again, maybe we don’t have to imagine it at all:
Lobbyist: Hi, come here often?
Legislator: Ahh ? well, no, this is my first time, so I am a little nervous.
Lobbyist: Relax. You’ll get the hang of it in no time. Let me help you out. Here’s an envelope with a wad of cash in it that you can use any way you wish.
Legislator: Is this legal? I thought I was not supposed to accept anything worth more that $50.
Lobbyist: You are technically correct. The cash in the envelope is actually for the Republican Party so they’ll let us talk to you, and this Speed Dating gimmick is just another way for us bottom feeders to schmooze you hicks into believing that we actually care about you. You’re new here, so I’ll let you in on a little secret. We lobbyists are paid big bucks to sell ice to Eskimos. It doesn’t matter who is paying me or what their business is, it’s my job to get you to vote or support whatever legislation is favorable to the company, or companies, that are paying me.
Legislator: I was elected by the people in my district to represent their interests and what is good for Utah. We had weenie roasts and bake sales to raise money for my campaign. I even maxed out my Visa card. I walked block after block knocking on doors handing out fliers telling people how much I wanted to be an instrument for good and change. I had all eight of my kids standing on corners waving signs asking people to vote for their dad.
Lobbyist: That’s precious. Look, I’ve got to circulate and schmooze with other people but I want you to remember that I’m your friend and, when the session gets underway, I’ll be calling you to help you to vote on these complex bills. I know you won’t have time to read them all'that is, if you read any of them'and that’s where I come in. Think of me as a tutor who helps you pass the class. I’ll do the heavy lifting, and if you have any questions about a specific piece of legislation, I or one of the other cruisers you see here tonight will be there to guide you. If things start to get a little hectic, and you can’t get ahold of one of us, there’s a simple rule of thumb to remember: If a bill up for a vote was authored by a Democrat, just vote no.
Legislator: Gee, thanks. Ah, will I see you again? Will you call me?
Lobbyist: Not to worry little buddy'you’ll be hearing a lot from me.
Tom Barberi is a freelance writer and talk-show host on 97.5 FM Talk radio.