The Instigator
Pro (for)
14 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Resolved: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/2/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,927 times Debate No: 11608
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)




The format for this debate will be as follows:

Round 1: Presentation of cases presenting the affirmation or negation of the resolution.
Rounds 2, 3 and 4: Rebuttle of opponent's case while strengthening and reconstructing your own.
Round 5: Closing arguments. In this round, NO NEW EVIDENCE OR ARGUMENTS MAY BE PRESENTED. You may only give your final remarks on why you have won the debate by showing how your points outweigh your opponent's. Directly answering a question asked in the previous round is allowed.

With that said, let us begin! I wish my opponent the best of luck!

RESOLVED: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.

I will first provide definitions by Oxford Dictionary for round clarity:

Organized: arranged in a systematic way, especially on a large scale, in order to carry out activities
Political: of or relating to governments, a government, or the conduct of government
Lobbying: an organized attempt by members of the public to influence politicians or public officials

I affirm the above resolution for three main reasons. First, political lobbying in the United States is infused with corruption. Second, lobbying results in government officials often or always voting with the platform of their respective lobbyists instead of on the merits of the legislation itself. Finally, the practice is undemocratic, as political power is shifted from the populace into the hands of special interest groups.

Contention 1:

Regarding my first contention, corruption has run rampant throughout the lobbying industry. According to Bell Foundation scholar George Neumann of Northern Illinois University, Even when allowed by law, lobbying acts can become distortive if disproportionate levels of influence exist — by companies, associations, organizations and individuals. A prime example is the tobacco industry, which spends more than $100,000 a day lobbying members of Congress to deregulate said industry. This is despite the almost indisputable evidence showing the harmful effects of tobacco on public health. Also, Japan's Toshiba Corp, which in 2000 sought to build a nuclear reactor in Alaska, lobbied for the Bush Administration's proposed extension of laws reducing corporate liability for injuries or death caused by nuclear accidents.

Furthermore, actions by lobbyists not only go against public interest, but the number of incidences of cases involving bribing or other illegal activity is growing. In the well-publicized Jack Abramoff scandal, he spent millions of dollars in gifts and campaign contributions to legislators in order to sway their vote to allow unrestricted internet gambling. Therefore, because the objective of lobbying is to influence politicians, it is becoming all too tempting to do so through unethical and illegal methods.

Contention 2:

Additionally, lobbying influences politicians to vote purely on the platform from the lobbyists, regardless on the merits or objective of the legislation in question. Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in 2008 for her reelection. Chris Cox, NRA Chairman, stated, "Marsha Blackburn has a perfect pro-gun voting record in Congress." As an avid NRA member herself, Blackburn has co-sponsored legislation based purely on the platform of the NRA, which does not take into account circumstances unique to the local level (for example, the recent bill eliminating restrictions on guns in public parks).

Pursuing this concept further, the Supreme Court struck down the ability to line-item veto in 1998, which further allows lobbyists to pass their cause through influencing legislatures. According to the CATO Institute, during the Bush Administration, lobbyists included a clause in an Energy Spending bill allotting $286,000 for research to enhance the flavor of salted peanuts. So the question we need to ask ourselves is, "Is that how you want our government to be influenced? By lobbyists with financial backing, or you, John Q. Public?"

Contention 3:

Finally, political lobbying by its very nature is undemocratic. Lobbying organizes for special interests, and by influencing lawmakers, power is transferred from the people (who the politicians should be representing) to those special interests. Now the con side may argue that the right to petition the government is a necessity guaranteed by the First Amendment, but that does not take into account the very nature of this debate, that political lobbying does more harm than good. Petitioning the government may be a necessary freedom, but the corruption and the numerable abuses committed by the lobbying industry prevents the clause from satisfying what the framers had in mind: that the common man should be able to let his voice be heard. The lobbying industry is simply too large and powerful for the common man to be heard, and in the end, organizations with monetary influence will have a greater opportunity to exert that influence.

For example, in 2008, citizens voted on a referendum requiring Nashville to conduct its government business in English only. The measure would not have even been introduced if the Virginia-based group Pro-English had not spend thousands of dollars lobbying council member Eric Crafton to introduce the measure.

The enormity of the modern lobbying industry also results in lobbyists interfering with the built in framework of checks and balances that were written by the founders of our government. Our political system was designed for the common citizen to have a voice. If people disagree with the record of a legislator, said legislator can simply be voted out of office at the next election. Furthermore, each branch of government is endowed with various ways to "check" the power of another branch. Because of this, the influence of the majority is heightened, as whoever is voted into government is able to extend his influence to other branches.

Therefore, in this day and age, the unnecessary influence and abuse of power by lobbyists show that in the United States, the harmful effects of organized political lobbying far outweigh the benefits. It is for this reason that my I urge a vote for pro.


I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate.


How I win the debate:
If organized political lobbying (OPL) does more harm than good, then it is necessarily true that a U.S. WITHOUT OPL is preferable to one WITH OPL, because the harms weighed against the good would make the U.S. less desirable overall. If I convince the voters that a U.S. without OPL is less desirable to one with OPL, then I win, because the good (harms prevented) OPL does would in this case outweigh and be more than the harms it causes.
Or b)
It is the burden of my opponent to prove that the harms are MORE than the good. If it is reasonable to believe that the harms might not be more than the good, that they might be somewhat equal, I also win this debate, for I do not have the burden to prove that good is actually more than harm, just that harm might reasonably not be more than good.

Now some definitions:

Organized political lobbying or OPL (using and combining opponent's definitions) –
A systematic, large scale, organized attempt by members of the public to influence governments, a government, conduct of government, politicians, or public officials.
I.e. If I gather 1000 people who support an issue, and form a group that speaks with 1 voice on this issue to politicians, then I am doing an act of OPL.

Political Initiative - The right and procedure by which citizens can propose a law by petition and ensure its submission to the electorate. American Heritage Dictionary.


With this said, my neg case will focus on why a world without OPL is worse than a world with OPL.

Contention 1 – Protests

Note that, under the logical combination of the definitions my opponent provided, MLK march on Washington style protests or Vietnam War style mass demonstrations would be considered acts of OPL. For, MLK's march on Washington was certainly organized, large scale, and systematic. It was done by members of the public to influence politicians and conduct of government. The same is true for most Vietnam protests. Since organized mass protests are OPL, then a world without OPL would exclude these protests.

These kinds of protests are essential for democracy. As it is, my opponent agrees that there are little ways for the public to get their voices heard. Protesting is among only a handful of ways the public can directly have their voice. In a world without protests, one of the tools used to efficiently influence politicians by Joe and Jane Commonperson would be destroyed. No OPL means that the only way to protest would be if 1000 people all individually came to the decision to protest in a small way (call your congressman, etc), because any attempt to organize these 1000 people into a group and make the group as a whole call congress every week would be OPL. Thus, to thwart OPL is to thwart any efficient way to reach government, for ANYONE to effectively get their voices heard.

In a world without OPL, there would be no efficient voice from corporations (no Jack Abermoths) and no effective voice of the public (protests). The only voice efficiently heard by the government, then, is the government itself. This is tantamount to totalitarian Iran and authoritarian China, where the government makes decisions without input from those who will be affected.

My opponent might say that elections would still uphold democracy, make the politicians responsive to the public. However, according to my opponent, currently politicians only represent special interests, and not the public, yet incumbents get re-elected all the time. If politicians can get the public to vote for them without actually doing anything for them, there is no reason to believe this would chance without OPL. Since politicians vote based on what's good for them, which were previously what special interests wanted, a world without OPL will result in politicians voting for what benefits them directly, not the special interests which were once good for them, not the public.

Thus, a world without OPL amounts to a complete destruction of democracy, where no one gets their voices heard except those who rule. A world that is far less desirable than the imperfect but at least existent democracy in a world with OPL.

Contention 2 – the Initiative Process and Direct Democracy

There is a state-wide initiative system in 24 states, and many local initiatives all over the U.S. When the public proposes a law, they have to get a set number of signatures (in the tens or hundreds of thousands) in order to get the proposed law on the ballot, and there is no way to do this except in an organized, systematic way. The government would never allow a proposed law with no signatures to get on the ballot, and getting ten thousand signatures without organizing is simply impossible. Thus, the initiative process would be a systematic, large scale attempt by the public to influence politicians and the conduct of government, an act of OPL.

A world without OPL then would also be a world without the initiative process. It is important to note that the initiative is the only way in which the public can directly influence government policy, the only way for the public to write law themselves. The destruction of the initiative process is tantamount to destroying the best and only real way that the public can have a say in what government does to or for them. Any semblance of direct democracy would be destroyed in the U.S., silencing the voice of the public even more than it is silenced now.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CONCLUSION <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

In conclusion, a world without OPL destroys democracy by not allowing any kind of organized way to petition politicians and talk to them with the unity of one voice, thus making efficiency in influencing politicians by the public impossible. Second, it destroys the only remaining way the public can influence policy, the initiative. A world without OPL is a world in which the public neither gets to voice their opinion in any effective way nor gets a say in what happens to them. Again, totalitarian Iran or authoritarian China resembles this description very well.

A world without OPL would be much worse than the imperfect world we have today.

Vote Neg. ^_^
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my challenge! I am certain that this debate will be lively as well as enlightening.

With that said, I will first address my opponent's case before moving on to my own.

Now before my opponent listed his contentions, he listed two ways that he claims are how he will win this debate. I must wholeheartedly disagree with point (a). The resolution does not require us to prove that lobbying is inherently good or inherently bad. This debate hinges on whether organized political lobbying DOES more harm than good.

To be more precise, the verb "to do" indicates actions taking place. The verb "to be" indicates a state of existence. We are not debating whether the concept of lobbying IS good or bad. We are just debating whether or not it is true that, at our current point in time, organized political lobbying results in more detriments or benefits for the United States.

My opponent's point (b) seems to be on par, except for the fact that the harms and good cannot be "somewhat equal." Either there are more harms or more good. If, after this debate, I receive 99 votes and my opponent receives 98, the values are very close, but I still received more votes, and am considered the winner. The same applies to this resolution. Even if the harms outweigh the good by 0.000000001%, the resolution would still be affirmed.

In his first contention, my opponent claims that citizen protests, like the civil rights marches on Washington, allow "the public to get their voices heard." Yet at this point in time corporate lobbyists in Washington outnumber the total number of citizen and nonprofit lobbyists by a ratio of 25 to 1 (1). Whose voice will be greater, that of 25 people or one person? I think the answer is obvious. Due to political lobbying, corporations have more influence than the rest of us citizens.

My opponent goes on to state that without lobbyists, the United States government would turn into a totalitarian regime. The supposed logic is that without lobbyists, politicians would only serve their own interests. We see this is not true, because if politicians do not cater to the will of their constituents, they will be voted out, plain and simple.

Part of the reason incumbents get reelected is because of massive campaign contributions by lobbyists. This all goes back to who has a greater voice. Monetarily, it would be the lobbying organizations. Without the influence of corporate lobbyists, politicians would be forced to turn to the people for support. If the people's interests still were not being served, the politician would not make it through the next election.

Therefore, because corporate lobbyists outnumber non-profit citizen lobbyists, and because an absence of lobbyists would not hinder the public's influence on a politician (it would actually heighten the public's role) my opponent has failed to show that organized political lobbying results in more good than harm.

In my opponent's second contention, he refers to ballot initiatives (a.k.a. referendums) as being a beneficial example of lobbying. I have two arguments against this.

First and foremost, these initiatives do not satisfy the definition of lobbying, and are therefore irrelevant to the resolution. Lobbying is defined as "an organized attempt by members of the public to influence POLITICIANS or PUBLIC OFFICIALS." According to Wikipedia, "a a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy (2).

Therefore, a ballot initiative is not an attempt to influence a politician or public official, so it does not meet the definition as lobbying, though it may be both organized and political. It is instead the public acting in PLACE of politicians or public officials, and that makes all the difference.

This leads me to my second argument against my opponent's second contention. Even if ballot initiatives were relevant to this debate (and the are not), my argument against this contention would be that our system of government does not constitute a need for these types of initiatives. We live in a representative democracy where, instead of having millions of citizens vote on every law or government policy, we elect officials to make decisions for us.

James Madison, known as the "father of our constitution," wrote: "It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure" (3).

With that said, because our country is NOT a direct democracy (rather it is a representative republic), ballot initiatives are neither relevant to this debate, and even if they were relevant, they do not play a necessary role in our country.

Now on to my own case.

My first contention shows that organized political lobbying at our present time is extremely corrupt. Corporate lobbyists make up the vast majority of lobbyists (remember, outnumbering all other lobbyists 25 to 1), and they are only looking out for their own interests, which tends to result in the rest of America getting the short end of the bargain. I have also shown that illegal activity is also taking place by using the example of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

In my second contention, because the campaigns of politicians often hings on monetary contributions by lobbying organizations, politicians have been shown to be more inclined to vote on the platform of lobbyists. They feel that they need to because if they don't, they run the risk of not having enough funds to run an effective campaign to get reelected. I have also shown that the inability of our president to line-item veto exasperates this problem.

My third contention I believe was pretty self explanatory. The huge influence of lobbyists in Washington is leading to the breakdown of our political system, and the citizens of the United States are not able to have their voices be heard. Because of the checks and balances built in to our government, influencing legislators carries over to other branches of our government, which makes organized political lobbying that much more detrimental.

In conclusion, it can plainly be seen that, in the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good, and I urge voters to choose a vote in affirmation. I look forward to my opponent's response.




a)Correct, but you didn't get what I was saying. If OPL does more harm than good, then a US without OPL would necessarily be worse than a US with it. It would make 0 sense if a world where OPL does more good than harm is worse than a world where OPL does more harm than good, all other factors held constant. Thus, if I win that a world without OPL is less desirable to one with OPL, I win. I'm not debating pure good/bad, just clarifying what the calculations mean.

b)Since there its impossible to calculate harms v good to decimals, if it is reasonable to conclude that the harms vs good calculation could go either way (indecisive), then I win. As pro, my opponent has the burden to prove the resolution definitively, so if no definitive conclusion is reached, I win. My job is only to negate, I don't have to, but could, definitively affirm something else.

>>>>>>MY CASE<<<<<<

Contention 1 –

"Any attempt to organize 1000 people into a group and make the group as a whole call congress every week would be OPL." - me in round 1. This went uncontested, I'll assume my opponent agrees.

My opponent's response can be boiled down to corporate lobbyists have disproportionately more say than the people. He is missing the point of my argument.

My arg is that the good OPL does is to uphold the right to petition, including protests. Yes, my opponent has already stated that this debate is solely regarding a calculation of good & harm done by OPL, regardless of what it's SUPPOSED to do, but my argument is that simply upholding these rights is a good in itself. In a world without OPL, I could not organize those 1000 callers. Upholding OPL, then is an upholding of the good of fundamental freedoms of petition in a group. I'm saying that the good that OPL does in the form of rights outweighs the harms done. The right to petition, in itself, is a good that outweighs its sometimes "abusive" use by some parties. My opponent must definitively prove why the harms of individual situations of "abusive" use is more than the overall good of the fundamental freedom of petition in general.

Moreover, the voice of the public can't even be heard in a world without OPL, because of the ineffective nature of individual petitions, which I have discussed in my first speech and which my opponent has not responded to. Thus, the only potential good of a world without OPL, the voice of the public, is hindered by the very fact that theres no OPL.

Contention 2 –

"OPL- A systematic, large scale, organized attempt by members of the public to influence governments, a government, conduct of government, politicians, or public officials." – me, round 1. My opponent failed to challenge this def, so I'll assume he agrees. The initiative process would indeed fall under this definition

1)A referendum is a systematic, large scale, organized attempt by members of the public to influence government and conduct of government. Example: proposition 8 influenced conduct of government towards gay marriage

2)Even if you dont buy that, initiatives are a specific kind of referendum. In an initiative, a member /members of the public must propose the law and get a number of signatures in support before it gets on to the ballot. An initiative is really referendum + process to get it on ballot. And to gather the tens of thousands of signatures required, a systematic, organized, mass effort must be made, or else it'd be impossible. And because this effort is made by the public in an effort to influence government and/or conduct of government, it is indeed OPL.

3)Even if u dont buy that, since no initiative would ever get on the ballot without OPL (signatures), the initiative would be destroyed whether or not its OPL.

In my opponents response, he used his def of "lobbying". But the resolution revolves around OPL. Using the def of OPL is more appropriate than just the def of lobbying, since the resolution doesn't just talk about "lobbying". He could have given his own definition of OPL in his last speech, but he didn't.

To contest the definition of OPL in round 3 would be abusive and shouldnt be allowed. First, it's built on his definitions. Second, I've built � of my case on this definition in round 1, and he had plenty of time in round 2 to object. To object in round 3 would be tantamount to letting me argue on 1 thing for half the debate (my OPL def) without objecting, then telling me the debate is on something else (his potential OPL def). That's just unfair.

Moving on to substance args.

a)He says we shouldn't make voters vote on millions of bills, but that's not what the Initiative process does at all. Voters vote on initiatives every couple of months or even every couple of years for those with enough support (signatures) to get on the ballot. It's not tedious.

b)In the Status quo, the initiative process balances out disproportionate corporate voice.


By giving direct power to the people, they can write and pass law themselves when angry, circumventing politicians. Thus, the initiative process is the great equalizer which keeps corporate power in check.

In a world without OPL, then, initiatives and corporate lobbying wouldn't exist. But since the initiative equalizes and balances out corporate power, to take both away would in effect do nothing to the power relationship, all other things held constant. The kind of corrupt lobbying my opponent cites would cease, but corporations would no longer have power constrained by initiatives.

Thus, even if I completely concede the corruption and disproportionate voice args in my opponent's responses & case, this would all be equalized by the initiative. The harms v good calculation would be evened out. But add to it the fact that OPL also does tremendous good in upholding the fundamental right to petition, and we can see that OPL does more good than harm.
… But I wont concede his case

>>>>>>>>>HIS CASE<<<<<<<<
Contention 1-

My opponent fails to cite any warrants for his arguments.
a)He fails to say how distortive OPL is. If it's only distortive by 1%, then it's obviously a small harm. Being pro, and being the one who brought it up, my opponent has the burden to prove that distortion is as bad as he thinks it is.

b)Making tobacco more available simply means those who choose to smoke tobacco can more easily do so, an increase in freedom of choice, which is a good, even though the choice might be harmful.

c)My opponent fails to provide ANY evidence regarding how extensive illegal OPL is. Abermoth doesn't prove extensiveness, in the same way that Watergate doesn't prove presidents like hotel break-ins. If illegal OPL isnt extensive, then it isnt a big harm. And again, my opponent has the burden of proof.

Counterexamples –

The existence of OPL allowed all the following good to exist.
NAACP : lobbied for civil rights and equality of all Americans, crucial to the Civil Rights movement.

PETA: lobbies for animal rights laws, against animal cruelty

Mothers Against Drunk Driving: lobbies for alcohol control

ACLU: lobbies for the protection of civil rights

My opponent must prove definitively why this good is outweighed by the harms caused by OPL.

Contention 2 –

a)He has 0 proof that Blackburn voted for gun rights because the NRA endorsed her, instead of the NRA endorsing her because she is pro-gun. The same applies to all other instances of endorsements.

c)He failed to prove why money for peanuts is a harm, and so failed to prove why similar actions are harmful. Until he definitively proves harm, there is none in this debate.

Contention 3 –

Most of this was the disporportionate voices arg, see response 1a

a)How is Obama assigning a judge (check/balance) affected by lobbying?
Debate Round No. 2


I thank my opponent for his response.


The majority of his arguments seem to be based on his statement about comparing a U.S. with organized political lobbying to a U.S. without it. Though I see how he came to his conclusion, I want to make one thing clear. This debate should not be drawn solely into a string of hypothetical scenarios to evidence our points. This argument is not whether organized political lobbying is justified. Real-world warrants must be used to establish credibility. I will attempt to point this out more as I rebuttal his case, but I just want to remain on the same page.

Also, it may be true that Pro has the "burden" to prove that the harms outweigh the good, but Con's responsibility is just as great. Just as Pro must prove that the resolution is true, Con must prove that it is false. Con must prove that that either the harms and good are equal (which is mathematically improbable), or that the good outweighs the harm. Saying that "no conclusions have been drawn" doesn't help either side in this debate.

In the second round, my opponent repeated his statement suggesting I did object to his saying that 1000 people calling Congress would be organized political lobbying. Since it meets the definitions, I do not object.

When defending his first contention, my opponent attempted to reinforce his point by saying that people gathering to protest IS a good in itself. He cited in Round 1 the Vietnam War protests and MLK marches on Washington. My question for him would be, what have the protests DONE that are beneficial? He says the underlying idea is good, but we are not discussing whether said protests are justified. Until I see some concrete examples concerning beneficial EFFECTS stemming from these protests, his contention cannot be upheld.

My opponent goes onto state that "the public cannot be heard in a world without OPL...because of the ineffective nature of petitions." Actually, the public can make itself heard. It's called VOTING. The public made itself heard loud and clear on November 4, 2008, when Obama was elected our first African-American president. We elect those who we believe will best represent our ideals. Of course, lobbyists ruin this concept, as I have shown in my case.

It is my opponent's second contention where things get tricky. My opponent used the three definitions I provided and combined them (incorrectly I should say) to create his own definition of organized political lobbying. Although I agree with my opponent that an entire debate should not hinge on definitions, the integrity of the topic must be upheld. It is therefore crucial that I do not let this issue slide.

I said in Round 2 that my opponent's argument about ballot initiatives didn't meet the definition of lobbying. In his response my opponent claimed it met HIS definition. His definition is incorrect. First, he attempted to use the definition of "political" to alter the definition of "lobbying." He used that action to justify broadening the scope of the word. However, because "lobbying" by definition is already organized and political (with the exception of referring to specific attributes of government while leaving other characteristics out), the term "lobbying" is no different than "organized political lobbying." Having the words "organized" and "political" in front of the word doesn't alter the word "lobbying" because of this.

Therefore, "organized political lobbying" is NOT "a systematic, large scale, organized attempt by members of the public to influence governments, a government, conduct of government, politicians or public officials." It would simply be the same as the original definition of lobbying. If my opponent continues to contest this, I would like to appeal to the voters. Whose definition is more credible: one that my opponent fashioned on the fly, or one by a peer reviewed, world renowned lexicon such as Oxford dictionary?

Either way, I will still rebut my opponent's substance arguments for his second contention.

a) "Voters vote on initiatives every couple months or even every couple years for those with enough support signatures to get on the ballot. It's not tedious." said my opponent in the last round. If his statement is correct, this proves my point that special interests have more influence than the public. Professional lobbyists exert their power daily in Washington, while the public is only voting on a measure once in a very long while. When it comes to lobbying, the harmful effects of corporate lobbying clearly outweighs, and I'll go into more detail when I return to my case.

b) "In the Status quo, the initiative process balances out disproportionate corporate voice."-my opponent in Round 2.
How so? He has not provided any examples of special-interest legislation that has successfully been defeated by a public initiatives, and neither do his sources. His Wall Street Journal article rather shows how special interests are harming public influence, supporting the Pro side. Until examples on successful initiatives can be provided, and until a direct correlation can be shown in how initiatives equalize corporate lobbying, his argument has no merit.


Contention 1:

My opponent asked me the extent of the distortion by corporations when it comes to lobbying. I gave an example of tobacco. I will be happy to provide more:

1. Lobbying and corruption in the financial system was an underlying cause of the global economic crisis. The influence of ratings agencies, Wall Street Financial Firms and private business lobbyists resulted in the U.S. Congress and the E.U. to deregulate their respective firms (1). This is clearly a harm and a widespread one at that.

2. In the recent health care overhaul, the pharmaceutical lobby successfully lobbied for more restrictions on generic consumer drugs, raising the cost of prescription drugs for everyone (2).

3. The AIPAC spent almost three million dollars lobbying Congress in support of anything and everything Israeli, effectively undermining U.S. foreign policy (3).

My opponent then said that lobbying by the tobacco industry is good because it makes tobacco more widely available, an increase in freedom of choice. Okay, first, there is no constitutional freedom of choice. Second, laws exists to deter "choices" from potentially harming society. The evidence that smoking is a detriment to public health is almost indisputable.

Also, my opponent claimed that since I didn't prove the EXTENSIVENESS of illegal acts of lobbying, "it isn't a big harm." Whether it is big or small, it is still a harm, and I don't think that there is any dispute that illegal acts of lobbying do more harm than good.

My opponent cited some organizations as examples of "positive lobbying," yet has failed to cite what specific beneficial RESULTS have occurred. I will be happy to debate this point once he has done so.

Contention 2:

a) I see the point about Blackburn's endorsements, but the fact remains that even if she disagrees on one issue, Blackburn must follow the NRA platform to the teeth in order to keep their campaign funding.

b) The harm in the line-item veto example is that taking funds from the energy budget and investing in "peanut flavors" is a complete monetary waste of our taxpayer dollars.

Contention 3:

This argument was barely touched by my opponent. My point on the English referendum has remained unchallenged so far. Also, my point on checks and balances show that if lobbyists affect one public official, that influence will stretch to another government branch. For example the Pew Hispanic Center lobbied heavily for Obama to appoint Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court simply because she was Hispanic.

(3) (search AIPAC



My opponent thinks that my points are empty hypotheticals, he fails to answer the logic behind the statement "If OPL does more harm than good, then a US without OPL would necessarily be less desirable than a US with it [,all other factors held constant]." By proving that a world without OPL is less desirable than a world with OPL, I am also necessarily proving that OPL does more good than harm. The two go hand in hand. It would be ludicrous to say that if OPL does more good than harm, the U.S. would be less desirable as a result.

By analogy, I am saying that if I can write with a blue pen, then I can also write with a black pen. Until my opponent directly addresses this (which he has not, he only acknowledged its existence with 1 sentence in the last round, and completely ignored it before that), his argument fails.

Unless harms vs good is EXACTLY equal, then it's either more or less. This is true. However, the reality must be faced, we are not gods who can calculate with such accuracy. If I win that it is reasonable to conclude that the harms vs good calculation is equal, then I win, because "reasonably equal" is the most accurate calculation possible. To put it another way, if the voters believe that the good v harm calculation comes out inconclusive, pro doesn't win, because he has failed to prove the resolution.

The Definitions Argument –
The difference between our definitions is that mine includes influencing "conduct of government" in the definition of OPL, and yours does not. Thus, if an attempt to influence "conduct of government" does fall under lobbying, my definition should be used. Of course it is lobbying, an anti-corruption group can LOBBY for no corruption law, which does affect govt conduct. I would also like to appeal to the voters to see if they believe this is the case. And initiatives would fall under this category.

>> MY CASE <<

My opponents want benefits of protests. The Vietnam protests ended the war, saved money and lives, and stopped the draft. MLK's marches were key to ending segregation, to racial equality.

But it goes beyond that. When I say that the right to petition as a group is a good in itself, that's exactly what I mean, not that "it's justified", whatever that means. My point just is that the right to petition IS the beneficial effect, is an end in itself. My opponent must prove why this right to petition cannot be seen as a beneficial effect in and of itself.

my opponent still needs to prove why the prevention of a harm that would have otherwise been done to the rights of the public (the right to petition) shouldn't be counted as a good done by the existence of OPL, a concrete good at that. Moreover, a world without the right to petition (OPL) is a far less desirable one than a world with the right to petition. Hence, I also win this debate by effect, as I have explained in my framework. This good far outweighs any individual instances of harms, because, as I have said throughout the debate, the overall good of the existence of the right to petition far "outweighs its sometimes ‘abusive' use by some parties".

My claim that a world without OPL would effectively destroy initiatives because there would be no way to get the signatures necessary went completely unanswered. In a world without OPL, initiatives don't exist.

a)Voters don't vote on initiatives every second, but neither do politicians (clearly highlighted by the year long attempt to get a vote on healthcare). Under my opponent's logic, in order for the influence of initiatives to mach lobbyists, they would have to vote on an initiative whenever there's lobbying? Thats simply absurd. If, more logically, you only count the times when politicians pass lobbyist-trenched bills which isn't even every bill, remember), and compare it to the frequency of initiatives around the country, then the influence does even out.

b) Initiatives allow people to write the laws that affect them, and every such law is a law that lobbyists didn't write. No matter how uncorrupt politicians are, there's simply nothing more direct than the people writing their own laws.
My articles do acknowledge special interest influence, but my opponent ignores the fact that the conclusions of these articles is that INITIATIVES ARE IN FACT KEY IN EQUALIZING SPECIAL INTEREST INFLUENCE. This is what matters when we do the harm v good calc.

"examples on successful initiatives [must] be provided"
Every single time an initiative passes, it's successful. Do I need to prove that initiatives do pass any more than I need to prove bills do pass?


And this leads to the significance of this argument. If the direct influence provided to the people through initiative votes does roughly even out lobbying, then the harms v good calculation with initiatives weighed against all my opponents points, even if uncontested, would result in no decisive conclusion. In a world without OPL, even though the harms of OPL would cease, the initiative, which equalized the situation, also ceases. The end result would be the same as before. Add to that that OPL upholds the good of the right to petition and the right to protest, and the good again outweigh the harms decisively.


Contention 1 -

The Distortion Argument -
My opponent cited some distortions caused by lobbyists, but this is not sufficient. He needs a statistic that cites how large the distortion is. That is, what % of bills passed is due to lobbyists who lobby contrary to the public opinion? Successful lobbying that turns out to be on the side the public would take anyway obviously doesn't count as distortion.
3 examples only show the extensiveness of distortion only if it's measured against something, hence the need for a %. 3 out of 3 would prove grave distortion, but 3 out of a million doesn't. Until he proves the scale of the distortion, this argument is null.

Tobacco -
Freedom of choice is not in the constitution, but it is a good nonetheless. My opponent needs to explain why the good of the freedom of choice is outweighed by the harm of bad health, and why bad health should be considered a harm at all when a person willingly chose it, just like someone has to explain why the harm to one's skin outweighs the good of freedom of choice and style a tattoo offers.

Illegal lobbying -
Illegal acts of lobbying do more harm than good. But my opponent fails to prove how extensive illegal lobbying is. If illegal lobbying is a tiiiiiiny portion of OPL in general, then the harm it does is tiny. Since this debate requires us to WEIGH the harms against the good, it necessitates that we analyze how big a harm this is. If illegal lobbying is very infrequent, little weight should be put on the harms side of the calculation.

Positive lobbying –
too many to count, so I'll give links
NAACP – "crucial to the civil rights movement". Need I really explain this?
PETA – protecting animal rights
MADD – prevent drunk driving
ACLU – protecting rights for over 90 years

contention 2 –
a)My opponent needs to prove that there was ever a time where Blackburn voted pro-gun because she doesn't want to lose NRA endorsement, not because she's extremely pro-gun. Until then, this is pure speculation.
b)My opponent needs to prove why putting money into peanut flavors is a waste of money, and hence a harm. Society benefits from tastier peanuts. Until then, or until more examples are provided, LEV shouldn't be seen as a harm.

Contention 3 –
As I have said in round 2, contention 3 simply reinforces and gives examples about what was said about lobbyists distorting representation, addressed in contention 1.
Debate Round No. 3


In the last round I wasn't necessarily disputing your logic on the "world without OPL bit." I was just making sure we understood each other. But be aware that because you are focusing on that assertion, negating my case doesn't necessarily make that assertion true. You in effect created a whole new "resolution" so to speak, so the burden of proof no longer applies strictly to Pro.

We also clearly do not see eye to eye on your claim that "inconclusive evidence" means that Pro loses. Think of it this way: the resolution can either be true or false. If "no definite conclusion" has been reached, the resolution has been proven neither true nor false. "Argumentum ad ignorantiam" would not apply because evidence has already been provided on both sides.


You are correct in saying that government conduct is relevant to organized political lobbying. But in your example of lobbying for an anti-corruption law, though it does have to do with government conduct, the underlying meaning of said lobbying is trying to get POLITICIANS and PUBLIC OFFICIALS to pass the law, so the definition of lobbying is upheld. Since ballot initiatives has nothing to do with directly influencing politicians or public officials, it is not organized political lobbying, as I have already shown.


Contention 1:

Yes, protests may be a good in itself, but that argument is not valid. Yes protests may be good in concept, but if in reality the beneficial accomplishments of protests were only negligible, a U.S. without them would not necessarily be worse. That is why I'm using concrete examples in my contentions.

Let me give another example. Most people would agree that charity is a good thing. But if conditions in society have not been marginally improved as a result of charity, it wouldn't really matter if the concept of charity exists or not. Sure, the idea of being charitable may be a "good in itself," but if, on balance, lives have not been changed for the better, who cares whether people are charitable or not. The same applies to protests.

Contention 2:

a) I have already proved that initiatives are not examples of organized political lobbying, so on that basis the argument really is not valid to this debate, as I have repeatedly shown.

b) All the same, even if the topic were relevant, my opponent has not shown any good that has come out of these initiatives. What initiatives have been voted on and passed that have positively affected society? My opponent has given to examples, so the argument would be meaningless in any debate.

c) Initiatives cannot equalize special interests if my opponent has not provided any examples of how these initiatives counteract the detrimental legislation passed on behalf of lobbyists. Because of this, as far as we are concerned, the initiatives have no effect.


Contention 1:

My opponent claims that my examples of negative lobbying haven't proved how distortive lobbying is. Seeing how my opponent has only given ONE example of POLITICIANS, PUBLIC OFFICIALS, or LEGISLATION that have resulted in more good than harm as an example of lobbying (the civil rights movement), we can assume that by including of five examples in my first case of negative lobbying, five out of six examples given have resulted in more harm than good. This is certainly great distortion.

The other three examples of lobbying (PETA, MADD, and the ACLU) have not been provided with successful legislation that has occurred because of a result of these lobbyists. Until you provide some, these groups have no affect on this debate.

Regarding tobacco, "freedom of choice" is non-existent. Laws exist to deter people from making "choices" that hurt society as a whole (e.g. murder, stealing, public indecency, etc.). Now my opponent asked why it matters that smokers choose to harm themselves. The answer is they don't just harm themselves. Smokers kill 53,800 each year via secondhand smoke (1). That would definitely intrude on the nonsmoker's right not to partake in the hazards associated with tobacco.

Finally, as I have already said, no matter the extensiveness of the illegal lobbying, it is still a harm in itself, which still supports the Pro side of this debate.

Contention 2:

a) Marsha Blackburn voted "yea" on the right to carry guns both in bars and public parks. These two resolutions clearly harm society (guns + alcohol and guns + pre-school children). Blackburn could have voted on these because of the NRA's platform. Even if she voted on HER own platform, the NRA would still do harm spending hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning to get back into congress a congresswomen who does not represent the interests of society.

b) Salted peanuts may be tasty, but it was in no way appropriate for them to be present in a bill reserved for the Energy Department Budget, as was shown it my original case. $286,000 of our taxpayer money that should be used to power our homes hardly would be put to better use pumping flavor into peanuts. That hardly fits the role of efficient government.


My opponent has accused me of not using "distortive" enough arguments to show how corporate lobbying harms society. Yet he has shown ONE example on positive legislation taking place as a result of of beneficial lobbying. I have shown his points on protests being a good in itself does not really matter because if the effects are negligible, society would not be hurt without them. Furthermore, I have demonstrated that my opponent's contention on ballot initiatives is not only irrelevant, but unfounded. Therefore, because my opponent spent pretty much the entire debate claiming my points don't outweigh the good, yet has provided no concrete examples of his own, the resolution has been affirmed. Please vote Pro.



homework forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


My opponent has forfeited the previous round. Please extend my previous arguments. I urge the voters to keep in mind, that according to, "Forfeiting a round destroys your credibility and makes it less likely that voters will vote for you." Seeing as this is the last round, should my opponent return, he must defend the reason he left, as I had no argument to respond to.

I have shown in all of my previous rounds that organized political lobbying does more harm than good, mainly due to my concrete evidence and warrants and my opponent's lack thereof. Please see the end of round three for my full concluding statements, and I again urge a vote for Pro.

I would like to finally thank my opponent for a wonderful debate, although it is unfortunate that he forfeited a round. The debate was very enlightening, and I hope to match wits with him again in the future.


homework forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by homework 6 years ago
might be a tad more difficult for me considering I don't really believe in anything I'm saying :P
Posted by Steelerman6794 6 years ago
abard124...yes that might be it in a nutshell, but it clearly isn't that simple. That's we're debating this in the first place! All in all, I think it will be a really interesting intellectual discussion. This topic is controversial in America today, and it can get heated on both side of the aisle.
Posted by homework 6 years ago
meh. I'll give it a try. Always fun to play devil's advocate.
Posted by abard124 6 years ago
More money=more lobbyists=more power... So much for the little guy and the American people...
Posted by infam0us 6 years ago
i had an AMAZING case for this on pro side. unfortunately, i ctrl+A'd then DEL'd all my sources in my firefox bookmarks. :( i could probably go research them because i parenthetically citatated most of it but i'm too lazy. plus this debate is for con anyhow. :(
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Steelerman6794 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by lindseyloo92 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70