Chamber Insider Blog

If You’re Not at the Table, You’re On the Menu

Blog Series by Brian Fauls, Government Affairs Manager, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
To see all of the posts in this series, click here

There is legend in Washington, D.C. that the term ‘lobbyist’ was coined at the Willard Hotel when Ulysses S. Grant was in office (1869-1877).  The story goes that President Grant would frequent the Willard Hotel many an afternoon to enjoy brandy and a cigar, and while he was there, he’d be hounded by petitioners asking for legislative favors or jobs.  President Grant, so it is said, would complain about his peace and quiet being disrupted by “those damn lobbyists.”

It’s a great story, and it’s made the rounds of reputable media establishments countless time (and yes there are some reputable media establishments out there), but it’s overblown at best and completely untrue at worst.   In truth, the verb ‘to lobby’ first appeared in print in the United States as early as the 1830′s, well before President Grant came to Washington.  There is also some good evidence to suggest that the term’s use can be traced back as far as England in 1640, where it was used to describe the lobbies that were open to constituents to interact with their representatives. 

There is a greater point to this story; the right and opportunity to interact with your government representatives, to petition your “Government for a redress of grievances,” is as old as modern representative government itself.  It is, and should be a foundational principle of any government that prides itself in being of the people, by the people, and for the people

So, why should individuals and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce lobby and create programs that give you the opportunity to interact one on one with your government?

There are a couple of reasons:

1. If business is not at the table, we’re on the menu.  If there is an issue on the table, groups of people will show up in mass either to support or protest a decision.  Our voice needs to be heard, now louder than ever, to ensure that the long term growth and prosperity of our business community is protected.

2. Lawmakers need our help.  Laws that seem good on paper don’t always work in the real world.   Our Supervisors and Councils need the business community’s expertise to understand those real world pitfalls and to help generate innovative solutions that overcome the true root causes of problems.  This is why committees, counsels, and commissions exist.

3. Your time is scarce.  We know that Loudoun’s business owners and entrepreneurs are busy running businesses and creating jobs.  You don’t have time to sit in government Committee meetings.  So, every opportunity we take on your behalf to discuss the business community’s agenda with government officials increases their ability to understand your issues and concerns and to respond more appropriately.  Our persistence as a concerned, credible, and well-organized constituent is the Loudoun business community’s most powerful tool in the halls of government.

4. We’re all in this together.  We have a vested interest in creating and perpetuating a world-class quality of life here in Loudoun County, and quite simply, the laws and regulations created by government affect everyone’s daily lives.  What government giveth with one hand, it can takeith away with the other, unless people are vigilant.

— Blog Series written by Government Affairs Manager Brian Fauls, bfauls@loudounchamber.org

Join us at the table at our upcoming PolicyMaker series event:

 

PolicyMaker Series:

2017 Board of Supervisors Breakfast
Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Belmont Country Club, 8-10 a.m.
In 2017, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will make critical decisions that will impact on Loudoun County for generations. Join us to hear straight from your local supervisor about the upcoming changes and how you can be involved.  Learn More & Register Here

 

 

photo credit: The Daily Journalist (via Google Images)

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