Who Cares If DeLay Bullies Lobbyists?
It's better than the other way around.
But the more lobbyists were reduced to being party apparatchiks—the less free will, and perhaps even skill and merit, came to matter in a lobbying career—the less appealing a career in lobbying would have to become. Who wants to be a cog in a machine? Perhaps more important, who wants to be an apparatchik with no job security? Because no Republican machine would be so efficient as to perpetuate itself forever. Indeed, the less distinguishable the GOP and the business community became, the more likely voters would come to loathe both. Democratic victory in the House, the Senate, the White House, or all three would throw the patronage assembly line violently into reverse. Live by party loyalty, die by party loyalty. Isn't that insecure, status-impaired scenario more appealing than today's permanent culture of glamorous and all-powerful Washington lobbyists?
In a Washington subdued by the K Street Project, it's hard to imagine that a Dave McCurdy would want to lobby for the electronics industry. And it's just about impossible to imagine that a Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., or a Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., would want to give up a House seat to become a lobbyist. So, maybe—just maybe—the GOP is doing us all a favor by treating Washington lobbyists like the help.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.