Election 2016 Round Table Discussion: Donald Trump stated in a late September Council Bluffs, Iowa campaign rally that if elected president he would “take on the special interests, the lobbyists, and the corrupt corporate media that have rigged the system against every single American.” How would he go about tackling these monumental tasks?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-The first and best way to rein in the special interests that have turned congressional votes into a commodity to be bought and sold is to run the lobbyists out of the process.  No matter how you slice it, using money and influence to get close to legislators is bad business.  We have to get the foxes out of the henhouse.  There are, of course, First Amendment issues to be dealt with here, but if Trump is elected and allowed to appoint a couple of right-thinking justices to the Supreme Court, perhaps sanity will prevail.

Getting the “corporate media” under control, however, is a straw man.  The mainstream media is losing more and more loyal viewers and readers as the blogosphere explodes, providing more voices and more content from which intrepid searchers can get information.  Short of instituting a Soviet-style Pravda system and shutting down all the networks, there’s not much that can be done in this area, nor should there be.  A free press, however much it may be stained by bias, is one of the hallmarks of our culture. In the end, market forces will tell the tale.  See how Fox News ascended and CNN shrank, although that is now balancing a bit.

 

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Donald Trump will go about tackling the task of taking on the special interests, lobbyists, media and others though a series of ethics reforms that he has recently proposed. He would begin with restrictions on members of Congress and others in the White House circle from taking on jobs as lobbyists.

He would propose legislation that would address a five-year ban “on all executive branch officials lobbying the government for five years after they have left government service.”  He would also ban members of Congress and their congressional staffs from lobbying activities.   Additionally, he proposed narrowing the definition of lobbyists under the law so others seeking to become lobbyists would know and understand the requirements of a lobbyist.  He would include people who identify themselves as “consultants” or “advisers” with their focus being on helping those they serve to maneuver through the Washington maze while shaping government policies.

Trump also stated that he would ask Congress to forbid foreign lobbyists from promoting their governments and fundraising for their causes. If elected, Trump could possibly use an executive order to restrict former employees lobbying his administration per se, but any ban that would apply to the legislature would have to go through Congress, so he could face difficulties with that proposal.

In April of 2016, Trump met with a number of special interest groups in Washington, D.C.  Trump has stated in the past that he is aware of the power exerted by special interest groups and realizes how they have gained powerful influence, which has  pushed voter’s needs aside; however,  he also realizes the impact that these groups have on the political system. In order to strike a balance with  curbing the influence of  special interest groups  from overriding the political system and negatively impacting the lives of citizens, these groups that include giants like the National Federation of Independent Business,   major airlines, Philip Morris and others will  also need revised ground rules for operating  in Washington, D.C.

Legislators must strike a balance between what special interests should be allowed to lobby for, at what stakes and at what cost.  Anything that adversely affects the American working class and those at lower economic levels should always be taken into consideration before any deals are struck, contracts signed, jobs handed out, and  monies  distributed.  Limitations of power and deal making need  to be put in check when  it comes to special interests gaining influence over the rights of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Trump’s distrust and disrespect for the media is well known, but he is well aware of how the press, audio and visual media need to be managed  in order to protect Americans from innuendo, disinformation, fractured and false reporting whether in print or  through other means.  Freedom of the Press is the media’s excuse for uplifting their favorite candidates and issues to a level of prominence and policy making influence, but taking advantage of that freedom to discredit Trump and the American people is what he questions and opposes.

When a press is able to sway and influence elections, promote candidates, and take sides on policy issues, it is time for an opposing force to put them in their place, and Trump has already done that through his campaign speeches and various interviews, much to the chagrin of the ruling media, which truly does consider itself the Fourth Estate in America.

Mr. Trump will treat the media as a force to be reckoned with and will utilize strategies that strengthen news conferences, factual and reliable news source development and other approaches to get news reporting on track. He will prevail and the media will not be allowed to stifle the truth, engage indirectly in policy making and override the will and demands  of the American people for real truth in reporting.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The key to eliminating lobbyists, special interests, and corporate media is to take the money out of government.  Allowing the government to grow to its gargantuan size, print money by the trillions to prop up policies such as making war on Iraq and Afghanistan without billing the taxpayers, and promise all sorts of benefits and privileges, has caused politics to become far too important to too many big corporations and wealthy individuals. Donald Trump’s strategy to combat these people should be to lobby to reduce the federal government to a fraction of its current size. Once the money dries up, the allure of political influence and power will dry up too.

Trump’s first goal, assuming he’s sincere, is to recruit a majority in Congress to side with his point of view. Most members of Congress are in debt to many of these special interests, especially lobbyists. It’s doubtful they’d go to any great lengths to help him.

Nevertheless, assuming he gets Congress on his side, his priority should be to end the practice of elected officials leaving politics for second careers as lobbyists.  This is the primary cause of who writes bills and ensures their passage.  The good old boy network flourishes when those in that system work both sides of the street.  It seems most bills are written by lobbyists, special interests, or the lawyers of those entities, and are designed more to guarantee certain advantages to the big players such as government contracts, favorable tax laws, and other special treatment unavailable to small businesses or ordinary individuals.

Corporate media is a danger primarily because it consolidates the opinion shapers and information gatekeepers into a small group of wealthy and powerful individuals or entities. Once again, the lure of huge amounts of money has driven this consolidation. Opening competition is the best way to minimize the influence of corporate media. This would require revamping of tax laws, antitrust laws, and making radical changes to the corporate culture of executives and owners sucking all the profits out of their companies at the expense of workers and shareholders.

Doing all of these things will require a massive shift in thinking by the entire nation. If Trump does tackle this quest, he’ll need to convince a supermajority of America to go along with him. However, being a member of the privileged elite himself, he is not likely to want to dismantle the system he has benefitted from for decades. It appears that Trump’s talk of taking on special interests can only be considered political pandering.

 

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