The Instigator
gayaznpanda94
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
XimenBao
Con (against)
Winning
29 Points

resolved : that organized political lobbying in the united states does more harm than good

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/22/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 14,818 times Debate No: 10924
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (17)
Votes (5)

 

gayaznpanda94

Pro

According to Daniel Mitchel "O be sure, lobbyists aren't the easiest group of people to defend. Many are for sale to the highest bidder -- willing to advocate a certain position one year, then urging the opposite position the following year simply because a client with more money comes along. And there surely is a conflict-of-interest -- or at least something unseemly -- when a government official oversees the implementation of a complicated regulation before taking a high-paying job to "help" the private sector comply with it."

Because I agree with this I affirm the stated resolution. Resolved: In the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good.

To better understand let us clarify the following definition:

Lobbying-to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation

Contention 1: Political lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our political system. The denotation of a representative democracy is a type of democracy in which the citizens delegate authority to elected representatives, but lobbyists push their own interest without consideration for the majority's opinion. According to John Stuart Mill, the freedom of a few does not outweigh the freedom of the majority. In this case, special interests groups and lobbyists have a much greater influence than the general population, which is clearly inequitable and a blatant undermining of, in which the minority has more influence than the majority, the fundamental ideals of a representative democracy. According to Lee Hamilton "We depend on the idea that we, the people, can be heard in the halls of power, and that the interests of every side will be fairly weighed as legislation and regulations are crafted; yet if polls are to be believed, large numbers of Americans now believe they don't stand a chance against wealthy special interests." We have been given the right to speak out, but if we spoke out against special interest groups, it would ultimately be pointless. This could lead to negative outcome for the general public for the benefit of one special interest group and whoever they represent.

Contention 2: Lobbyist use unethical and immoral methods to fill their requirements. Lobbyist can fill their client's requirements by utilizing a variety of unethical methods, bribing or threatening the politician. According to Julie Norwell "Tactics also include using networking and contacts to make political threats or promises and to provide entertainment or favors." Lobbyist push political candidates, elected officials, and people in positions of authority to support matters that are beneficial to achieving their ends or the others they represent in doing so. Political lobbying is also similar to the old mafia phrase "Make them an offer they can't refuse." This phrase conveys a more concealed and malicious meaning inferring if the decision makers did not cooperate, then something bad would happen to them. In our society today, especially in our turbulent political system today, many forms of vengeance can occur such as smear campaigns, scandals, and in the worst form, assassination. Also, let us examine the word corruption. The definition of corruption is, according to Princeton wordnetweb, is: "inducement by improper means (as bribery) to violate duty" and the definition of bribery is: "the practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage. Let's compare these terms to lobbying. A lobbyist, as brought up earlier, is a person who conducts activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body. Now, we can surely question the ulterior motives of the lobbyist. Why would a person in his right mind go through so much trouble? The answer is because he is receiving proper compensation or receive some benefits. Since lobbyists have clear opportunities to meet with political officials and perhaps influence them, many affluent and powerful corporations fear that a politician's political agenda does will be detrimental to their well being, will pay the lobbyists to rally support for their company's cause and try to convince these politicians to uphold plans that will result in their immediate benefit. Thus, we can conclude that organized political lobbying is often used to gain an illicit advantage, and exploits a weakness of the American political system that has so far been failed to be addressed, in which bribery is indirect.

Contention 3: Since lobbyists advocate only one group's special interests, legislation that they help pass may negatively affect others. Actions of lobbyists could financially improve an industry but at the expense of another class of people. This could harm another group of people. Tom Hamburger states ""As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington… Tauzin played in preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices… There, he says, he eventually secured an agreement that the administration wouldn't try to overturn the very Medicare drug policy that Obama had criticized on the campaign trail." If pharmaceuticals companies increase their prices then health care be less affordable. In conclusion, since lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our democratic system and is a medium for corrupt behavior to exist in our political system, I ask you to affirm the stated resolution: that in the United States, organized political lobbying does more harm than good,
XimenBao

Con

I thank pro for starting this debate.

Pro affirms that "In the United States, organized political conducting of activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation does more harm than good."

To negate this, I will first explore the ramifications of his choice of definition, provide counterexamples that show lobbying producing more good than harm, and then discuss his three contentions in light of those points.

Definition arguments:

Pro has chosen to define lobbying as "to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation." To relate to the resolution such activities must be organized and political. As pro has not defined organized and political, I will use definitions which I hope will be relatively uncontroversial.

organized: Having a formal organization or structure, esp. to coordinate or carry out for widespread activities [1]

political: Exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality, etc. [2]

The point of this is to define what behaviors we're looking at. We're looking at behavior that arises from a formal structure or organization trying to exercise power in government affairs through influencing public officials, especially members of a legislative body on legislation. That is, organizations that, through any means, attempt to influence government affairs through influencing politicians.

Having fully defined terms, we now move to the counterexamples.

Counterexamples:

It is initially unclear whether Pro is affirming that lobbying does more harm than good in all cases or that there is more harmful lobbying than beneficial lobbying. However, in light of Pro's contentions, I argue that it should be read as an argument that lobbying is universally bad.

In each of his contentions Pro has treated lobbying and lobbyists as monolithic, making no distinction between acceptable and unacceptable practices. Contention 1 reads"Political lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our political system." Contention 2 leads with "Lobbyists use..." Contention 3 reads, "Since lobbyists advocate..."

If Pro's initial case was unclear as to universality, his contentions have clarified it. In each case he refers to Lobbying and Lobbyists as a monolithic whole. A single entity and activity. Thus if Con can show that it is not the case, that there are instances of positive lobbying, then Con has shown that "organized political lobbying can do more good than harm" and has negated Pro's resolution as stated.

With that in mind, lets look at examples of positive lobbying.

1. NAACP: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been lobbying for racial equality for more than 100 years, including within the political sphere.

"The NAACP's Washington, D.C., bureau, led by lobbyist Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., helped advance not only integration of the armed forces in 1948 but also passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1964, and 1968, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965." [3]

Unless my opponent plans to run a racism-good argument, he must concede that this was lobbying that brought more good than harm, which negates his resolution.

2. ACLU: In addition to it's legal aid in support of constitutional rights, the ACLU also concerned with influencing public officials directly, through lobbying campaigns designed to influence Congresspersons through communications from their constituents[4]. Some of the good that came through this lobbying was, just in the state of Washington, "voting rights reform, extension of domestic partnerships, privacy for car travelers, and fair play in community sports[5]."

3. Petitiononline.com: This online petition site produces neither harm nor good. It is a site where anyone can post a virtual petition and others can sign it[6]. While it may help people blow off steam, it's widely accepted that online petitions aren't worth the paper they aren't printed on for a number of reasons[7], some having to do with the reliability of internet petitions reflecting constituent opinion and if decision makers actually care about an internet petition enough to read it.

This example shows that even if lobbying doesn't do more good than harm, it's possible to have no effect, which also negates the resolution as stated.

Now that we've examined counter examples which show the flaws in the resolution's monolithic conception of lobbying, lets examine the contentions.

Contention 1: "Political lobbying contributes to the breakdown of our political system."

Clearly and obviously it does not, given that the right to petition government, as an individual or as an organization, is protected by the first amendment to the Bill of Rights which states, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Our political system is based on the idea that the people can and should try to influence our politicians to address the problems that exist. Thus political lobbying as defined cannot contribute to the breakdown of our political system. It IS our political system.

Furthermore, Pro does not support his assertions in this contention. His assertion that lobbyists have greater influence than the general population (as opposed to, say, being composed of the general population) as well as his assertion that speaking out against (undefined) special interest groups are pointless is unsourced and unsupported. The sources that are quoted here are Mill, a 19th century philosopher, and Hamilton, a National Security specialist. Neither source is relevant to these assertions. Also, Hamilton only speaks to perception, not fact.

For these reasons, this contention can be dismissed.

Contention 2: "Lobbyist[s] use unethical and immoral methods to fill their requirements."

Pro paints a picture of a Mafia-esque group of thugs terrorizing and bribing politicians into doing their nefarious will. Pro's only support for that is a ten-year-old quote[8] from a student journalist wire service[9] article which also discussed the positive aspects of lobbying and legislation which curbs the stated abuses. Those of you concerned about misrepresentation of sources may wish to pause here and consider your conduct vote.

In addition to failing to support the claim of lobbyists as mafia, Pro insinuates that no one would have a desire to influence politicians except for purposes of corruption. Please see my above examples as a counter to this.

Pro needs to prove that lobbyists are universally unethical and/or harmful. He has failed to prove that they are unethical or harmful AT ALL. Please dismiss this contention.

Contention 3:"..legislation that they help pass may negatively affect others."

Not every situation is win-win, which doesn't make win-lose situations always bad.

In any case, Pro's argumentation in this thread only works if you consider public health care reform to be a harm rather than a good. The article Pro cited goes on to say,"Yes, the drug companies are getting tremendous sweetheart deals" from Obama, said Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist who studies the history of health reform and other major social and economic changes. "But these bargains are the price of admission for achieving substantial reform. [10]" Pro's article presents a balanced picture of the costs and benefits of lobbyists interacting with politicians but leaves the conclusion to the reader whether or not it is a good or bad thing. I reiterate my statement about misrepresenting sources.

Pro has again failed to prove his contention. He needed to show that legislation helped by lobbyists always produce a net harm. He has failed to show it produced ANY net harm

Cites in comments
Debate Round No. 1
gayaznpanda94

Pro

I thank con for accepting this debate and putting up a good argument

In this round, I will rebuild my own case then attack my opponent's

First, I'd like to clarify a misconception the con side had while addressing this case. In my case, I have never stated that lobbying is universally bad, only in most cases, it does more harm than good, as clearly stated from all the negative aspects of lobbying in all of my contentions. Then, looking back to my first contention, my opponent does not address the fact that lobbying undermines the definition of a representative democracy. We can conclude that lobbying is not an equitable form of action when the lobbyists are not supporting the majority of the people, since the lobbyist's views are more influential to the political figure's views since he is allowed, in many cases, to speak and interact with the political figure more directly. With this, if an organization has the resources to hire many lobbyists, then the organization will get an unfair chance to influence the political figure and thus, they get a potentially greater amount of representation for their own specific interest. Thus, political figure can get a distorted sense of what the majority wants, and/or be pressured to support the lobbyists' views. My contention number 3 also falls under this. Lobbying in this case, is extremely harmful, when the minority's interests negatively influence the majority's interests. And since lobbyists are usually paid to support one's viewpoint, having greater amounts of wealth, especially the gigantic corporations, can hire a greater amount of lobbyists to have an unfair advantage against legislation which would be benefit the majority of the people in a representative democracy. Thus, it clearly goes against the definition of a representative democracy, in which the politician should support the views of the majority. Since lobbyists give an unfair advantage to those who have the money and power to hire them in our political system, it is certainly clear that lobbying does more harm than good whenever they advocate the minority's views. Also, my opponent also does not address my use of semantics in contention 2.
bribery is: "the practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage. . A lobbyist, as brought up earlier, is a person who conducts activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body. Thus, we can definitely uphold the fact that lobbyists are indeed influential, as mentioned earlier.
Therefore, as long as lobbying provides an advantage for a certain group, we can concur that all hired lobbyists are a form of bribery, and thus corruption.
In the NAACP, however, and its interests do not hurt anyone and most of its lobbyists aren't paid, and since it benefits the majority, the con cannot use this as a counterexample since it's only one, in many rare cases, that lobbying is good. Also, the petitiononline.com is completely irrelevent to the argument. Since the definition of lobbying is to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation, and my opponent denounces the reliability and actual influence of these petitions, so this cannot be counted as lobbying.
XimenBao

Con

I thank Con for the response. I would be even more thankful if he had saved me some eyestrain by including paragraphs, which I hope voters will consider in their S&G vote.

Roadmap: Resolution interpretation, Pro's contentions, counterexample extenstions.

Resolution interpretation:

In the Round 1 resolution, Pro never clearly stated that he was arguing that lobbying was bad in most cases, rather than bad in all cases. He may have meant to, but debates are conducted on the basis of what is written/said, not what was meant[1]. In this case, I have argued that what was written clearly indicates that the resolution should mean "all lobbying is bad" and I ask the voters to extend my R1 arguments related to that.

Pro has not addressed those arguments, instead claiming that he stated "in most cases, it does more harm than good." I invite the voters to re-read Pro's R1 argument, and you will see that he has never stated that. Pro has failed to defend his interpretation of the resolution and so Con's should be accepted.

Pro must defend that all lobbying does more harm than good. However, even if you reject this argument, Pro still fails to meet the lower burden of proof that most lobbying does more harm than good, as will be discussed below.

Pro's Contentions:

Contention 1. Pro claims that I have not addresses his argument that lobbying undermines representative democracy. I ask the voters to extend my arguments that lobbying as defined is protected by the First Amendment, and rather than undermining democracy, is a vital component OF democracy. Pro has ignored my arguments which clashed with his, instead repeating his R1 arguments as if I had said nothing. Thus voters should accept my arguments, as they have passed unchallenged.

Furthermore, Pro shows no harm from this contention, which he must do if it is to support his point. If this contention was given completely to Pro, it would show that organizations which have more lobbyists influence more politicians. This is not inherently negative, as shown by my examples of positive lobbying organizations in R1. In addition to addressing my arguments against this contention, Pro must link a harm in order for this contention to have any weight.

To win this contention, Pro needs to show that ALL lobbying is harmful to democracy. Pro has yet to show that ANY lobbying is harmful to democracy.

Contention 2. This contention claims that lobbyists are immoral, mafia-esque thugs. Pro has still not provided any evidence that this is the case, and so contention 2 can be dismissed immediately on that basis.

I will go further and point out that his recourse to the semantics argument is mistaken. As Pro has defined it, bribery is defined as offering something to gain an illicit advantage. Lobbying is conducting activities to influence public officials.

Lobbying can only fit into this definition of bribery if lobbying is accepted to give an illicit advantage, a claim which is part of the basis of debate. In order for Pro to claim lobbying is bribery, he must assume that lobbying is illicit, and in doing so assumes his conclusion and invalidates his argument.

To win this contention, Pro must show that ALL lobbying is unethical and harmful. Pro has yet to show that ANY lobbying is unethical and harmful.

Contention 3.

Pro continues to claim that lobbying harms the interests of the majority in favor of the interests of the minority. Pro continues to fail to support that claim, citing no sources or evidence.

Pro's own source in R1 countered this claim by showing a balanced picture of industry lobbyists negotiating with the government in balancing benefits for them with benefits for the nation.

To win this contention, Pro must show that ALL lobbying hurts the interests of the majority. Pro has yet to show that ANY lobbying hurts the interests of the majority.

Counterexample extensions:

First, extend my ACLU example as it passed unchallenged.

NAACP. Nothing in the definition of lobbying used in this debate specifies that lobbyists must be paid. Moreover, NAACP employees ARE paid [2].

Pro argues that the only real lobbyists are those which support minority interests. This is an attempt to pull a No True Scotsman fallacy to sneak Contention 3 through without support, as that was never a part of the definition of lobbying either.

Pro also argues that the NAACP is only one example and so can be dismissed as an irrelevant outlier. In response I say that I've given three examples. That is three more valid examples than Pro has given and Pro has given no evidence that the majority of lobbying is harmful rather than helpful.

To win, Pro must show that all lobbying is harmful. As yet, he has not yet shown that ANY lobbying is harmful.

Petitiononline. As Pro notes, the definition of lobbying is to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials. Nothing in that definition states that those activities must be reliable and successful. Since those were Pro's only objections to this example, his objections can be dismissed.

Summary:

Pro has not has not defended his resolution interpretation, adequately supported any of his contentions, supported his claims with evidence, or shown in any way that ANY lobbying is harmful.

[1] http://www.kent.k12.wa.us... (page 7, paragraph starting with 'Interventionist')
[2] http://www.naacp.org...
Debate Round No. 2
gayaznpanda94

Pro

gayaznpanda94 forfeited this round.
XimenBao

Con

My opponent has forfeited his round.

Please extend all my previous arguments.

In addition to responding to those arguments, should my opponent wish to rejoin the argument in the next round, he will need to argue why the forfeit should not count as dropping all arguments and ceding the debate.

Per the guidelines on this website, "Forfeiting a round destroys your credibility and makes it less likely that voters will vote for you.[1]" I will elaborate on this if Pro comes back.

[1] http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 3
gayaznpanda94

Pro

gayaznpanda94 forfeited this round.
XimenBao

Con

Pro has forfeited. Please extend my previous arguments which justify a full vote for Con.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by XimenBao 7 years ago
XimenBao
wrong button
Posted by XimenBao 7 years ago
XimenBao
Pro has forfeited. Please extend my previous arguments which justify a full vote for Con.

Thank you.
Posted by XimenBao 7 years ago
XimenBao
Really? I appreciate the kind thought, but it seems to me the debate is basically pro making unsupported claims and me saying "prove it."
Posted by m93samman 7 years ago
m93samman
both sides are somewhat skewing each others arguments... but this is an excellent debate. i'm learning a lot from both sides, considering i have yet to research this topic hahaha
Posted by infam0us 7 years ago
infam0us
this topic is basically the same as 07's PF topic. FFFUUU-
Posted by angel-of-death 7 years ago
angel-of-death
IF u would like to debate me on this topic
Resolved: Obama's plan to send more troops to Afghanistan is in the United States best interest"
than Please challenge me because i have a few good arugements
Posted by angel-of-death 7 years ago
angel-of-death
this PF topic sux's its to bland if we had another topic like janurarys topic id be perfectly fine
Posted by gayaznpanda94 7 years ago
gayaznpanda94
lol ,i know, rite?
Posted by infam0us 7 years ago
infam0us
this topic is so terrible. i hate being in PF now.
Posted by gayaznpanda94 7 years ago
gayaznpanda94
this topic rly sux
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by jbyess 6 years ago
jbyess
gayaznpanda94XimenBaoTied
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tmoney226
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Vote Placed by XimenBao 7 years ago
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