Lobbyists. Love them or hate them, they have a strong voice in the political narrative here in the United States, and sometimes the goals of a lobby do not align with the goals of the American people.
According to the polls, that is precisely what took place in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. 91% of Americans supported background checks for gun purchasers, yet a bill to the same effect was struck down in Congress, a testament to the power of the NRA as a lobbying organization.
This was a lightbulb moment for Nick Meehan, a Los Angeles native and student at The Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The idea is dubbed The Lobby, and it could be a transformative model with the potential to create real, tangible political change.
Meehan has a long interview published today in Vice and it is certainly worth a read. He makes a great point about the difference between complaining about the system and using the system to change things for the better. It really speaks to what he is hoping to accomplish and why it is so powerful…
It is not so much an attempt to defeat the [lobbying] sector as it is a way of using the same instrument in an unintended way. The problem with movements like Occupy, in my opinion, is that they’re always about being against something. I don’t think that’s a very smart way to bring about change. I mean, you can complain about what is wrong in the world but the only way you are going to change it is by changing policy. To work with the system as it exists instead of against it. And apart from the direct influence per issue, I hope The Lobby will help make lobbying more democratic and transparent in general.
He also points out that existing lobbying groups could potentially use The Lobby to reach out to the public in a more direct way.
Meehan is kicking around the idea of crowdfunding this project on a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and according to the interview he is also trying to build a solid advisory board as he moves forward. Speaking for myself, I hope he follows through. It’s an idea that is probably long overdue.