Lobbyists represent your interests, whether you know it or not

The field of advocacy is one of the largest employers in the D.C. region, but it is also one of the most misunderstood.

“If you take a look at polls that show who’s liked in America, Congress is at an all time low, politicians in general at a low, lawyers at an even lower standard, and lobbyists? Even below that,” said Ivan Adler, principal of the McCormick Group.

While the perception might be awful, Adler said that there are lobbyists representing almost every aspect of American life.

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“If you have a hobby, if you have a dog, if you eat food, if you like cooking, there’s somebody in Washington looking out for your interests,” he said.

Despite the fact that many people think a career of paid advocacy is something to dislike, “it’s hard to find knowledgeable people in Washington that aren’t lobbyists,” said Adler. In Adler’s view, without these lobbyists, democracy would cease to function.

Adler also said that entrepreneurs and lobbyists are similar.

“Fundamentally, if you’re at a law firm or lobbying firm that’s advocating for clients, you are your own business. And you have to go out and market, you have to go out and sell yourself, you have to go out and sell your value,” he said.

While the perception of lobbyists is that they undermine democracy in favor of large corporations, Adler said that this isn’t the case at all.

“There are a ton of people who are in this town that are advocating on behalf of children, that are advocating on behalf of the poor, advocating on behalf of the homeless. There are advocates out there, not everybody is working for the Fortune 500,” Adler told What’s Working in Washington.

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“Whether or not they want to call themselves lobbyists, that’s up to them. But I think they are advocating on behalf of others, and broadly speaking, isn’t that what advocacy really is?”

The business of lobbying is also changing, and technology has been “a big part of that,” said Adler. Social media has become a driving force in the industry.

“You now have the ability, through social media, to reach out and touch lot of people very quickly,” he said.

“I think that’s good for Washington, I think it’s good for democracy, and if people make a few bucks along the way, that’s great, too.”

Listen to entire April 24 show: