Help Me Help You

This poetic quote comes from the film, Jerry Maguire, where the professional football player (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.) pleads with his agent (played by Tom Cruise) for support so he can do his job: deliver on the football field.  While elected officials don’t have agents, they do have constituents.  Ironically, due to closer media scrutiny and an enlightened voting public, there seems to be increasing fear and anxiety among elected officials to deliver on their field and actually do what they were elected to do:  represent their constituents.

As a former staffer on Capitol Hill and then a lobbyist, I’ve watched Members of Congress struggle with this fear.  They want to go to bat for their constituents but hesitate to step up to the plate fearing the media will call them out for doing favors for “special interests.”  Reporters are quick to question the motives of earmarks, carve-outs, and the fine print of report language – even if the intentions of the sponsor are to serve his or her constituent interests.   While some amount of questioning is certainly expected of the media, it is unjust to presume that anything done for a special interest is somehow wrong or nefarious.  After all, aren’t constituent interests the most “special” of all?

In this environment, elected officials are more likely to preserve their reputation and serve their constituents when they can mobilize constituent groups to join their crusades, endorse their ideas, and help sway opinion.  This is good news for advocacy organizations and grassroots coalitions who can effectively deliver support and validate the cause through their membership.

At the end of the movie Jerry Maguire proclaims, “We live in a cynical world…..a cynical, cynical world.” These days that proclamation certainly applies to the world of policymaking.  With the increasing cynicism in the media, and charges of cronyism against politicians, expect elected officials to be looking for organized constituent groups to provide the validation and comfort level they need to do their job.

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Grassroots

Help Me Help You

This poetic quote comes from the film, Jerry Maguire, where the professional football player (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.) pleads with his agent (played by Tom Cruise) for support so he can do his job: deliver on the football field.  While elected officials don’t have agents, they do have constituents.  Ironically, due to closer media scrutiny and an enlightened voting public, there seems to be increasing fear and anxiety among elected officials to deliver on their field and actually do what they were elected to do:  represent their constituents.
As a former staffer on Capitol Hill and then a lobbyist, I’ve watched Members of Congress struggle with this fear.  They want to go to bat for their constituents but hesitate to …

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Grassroots

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