Is there a constitutional way to outlaw lobbyists?

I was having a conversation with a facebook friend the other day, and she opined that what with the ridiculous amounts of money required to get elected to Congress these days, lobbyists are arguably more culpable than politicians for the corrupting influence of money in Washington.

I mentioned that it would be a tall order crafting legislation that would retain our constitutional right to petition the government and at the same time prohibit government-petitioning as a profession. Anybody have any thoughts on how it could be done (leaving aside, as much as possible, the question of whether it should be done)?

Requiring that every petitioner represent only himself would seem to make the right itself meaningless, on account of [del]not everybody[/del] hardy anybody can haul their butt to DC when they want to bend their representative’s ear.

How do other countries not have lobbyists (assuming that there are any other countries with representative governments which have no lobbyists)?

Well, the answer is no. That pesky First Amendment effectively makes it impossible.

Ban any and all consideration, gifts, parties and employment offers. Make it a law that, once you take the oath as a Congresscritter, you can’t serve as a lobbyist or be employed by a company that has lobbyists for 25 years after you leave office. Enforce every single violation ruthlessly. Immediate expulsion and serious jail time for all offenders, in a maximum security facility. Then let everybody talk away.

Can I buy televised ads for one candidate, or against the other? Can I mention it, and explain my reasons for doing so, to the Congressman in question?

I have thought about this, and it seems for every “legal” way of stopping it there would be about 10 alternative ways to accomplish it because the 1st amendment protects everybody.

I think other countries have lobbyists but they’re not a visual because the election processes are so long and drawn out. The 2012 election started in January of 2011 in reality. That’s over a year and a half. A lot of other countries tend to have quick elections without much campagining time.

That will be almost impossible to stop. There your 1st amendment rights will be strong. You can be disallowed from doing so with the direct cooperation of a candidate, but it can be done extensively with just a wink and a nod.

But getting rid of the system of bribery will reduce the effectiveness of independant campaign spending. It won’t change things for the power hungry types of politicians, but most of them are in the game to get rich, or richer, and when that door is closed the game will change. Not necessarily for the better, but it will be different.

The freedom of association is one of the core rights in a free society.

It is one of the generally accepted core human rights.

As stated it is protected as two parts of the first amendment, the freedom of speech and as the freedom of assembly.

If you outlawed lobbyists you would actually do more harm to the typical citizen than you would to the “corporations”

Think about the ACLU, NAACP, AARP etc… they as individuals would have little power compared to the types of Bill Gates but as a group of citizens they have more.

Lobbyists are effectively the only check against tyranny by the masses that we have. I don’t think it’s a good system, but I’d rather have it than have nothing, and I haven’t been able to think of an alternative.

Politicians are not supposed to just blindly vote according to what the people who elected them want. They are supposed to investigate all sides of an issue, talk to experts, and come to wise solutions.

What’s the point of having a representative government then?

Representation of interests, rather than of majority desire.

No, that would be direct democracy. We elect representatives to follow, but also temper the will of the people.

The idea is that you’re electing someone whom you trust to look into issues and represent your best interests. The representative is supposed to do that – i.e. to look into issues and represent your best interests. He isn’t supposed to vote for what you want, as that may or may not actually be a good choice. Most people don’t have the time or ability to research the issues (nor the budget to hire a research team), nor the temperament to weigh them as carefully as needed. The things that most people want, and the representatives shoot down, are because those things – while sounding good – just aren’t supported by the actual numbers.

Essentially we are a republic. Democracy is a method to choose our representatives, and the process they use in making decisions (i.e. enacting law).

The point of having a representative government is precisely that the elected officials should not just blindly do what their constituents want. That’s why we elect them. If they did just blindly do what we want, why have them at all?

Simple logistics; you can’t poll 200 million voters every time the House needs to vote on renewing funding for the Federal Root Vegetable Promotion Board. Nor would such a poll be meaningful.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if Congressional votes were on a secret ballot. I want to know how the buggers voted, but I might be willing to give that up if it meant lobbyists couldn’t know either.

As a cite I would like to add Federalist paper #10:

As you read it remember the Democratic and Republican were not political parties at the time.

The republican form of government was intended to prevent infighting and control the oppression of smaller factions.