Magnifying glass zooming in on national security and special interest.

Are You a Special Interest?

Are you a special interest?

It turns out you are…so go ahead and act like one. Read a bit further to learn how.

You have likely heard of the Federalist Papers…at least you skimmed through the Cliff’s Notes when you were in school. Just a quick refresher that the Federalist Papers were written in an effort to convince citizens of the merits of our proposed Constitution as it was in the process of adoption. Federalist papers were written under the pseudonym “Publius” and the true authors would be revealed over time as Madison, Hamilton, and Jay.

In Federalist 10, James Madison wrote on the subject of factions. He describes the nature of man to look out for self-interests. The government proposed a democratic republic, as opposed to a simple democracy. This would temper the power of factions that could emerge in a minority or a majority. Factions in today’s vernacular can be viewed as interests or special interests.

You have a right to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly of how policy decisions impact your business, your industry, and your well-being. Click To Tweet

Beginning in the post-World War II era, interests began to take on a more formalized shape. Industry groups recognized that by banding together, the likelihood of successfully influencing policy could increase. The era of modern lobbying began to take off in the 1960s, in partial response to an emergence of government regulation that might negatively impact business. Government regulations of the 1970s grew four-fold and solidified the dynamic of interests playing not just defensively with government, but offensively as well. Rather than waiting and reacting to government policies, interests would participate in the process and engage in offensive shaping. In Lester Milbrath’s ground breaking research detailed in “The Washington Lobbyists” circa 1963, he accurately described the communications function of lobbying as an essential ingredient of the policy process. This communications function remains with us today.

If you are selling to the federal government, you have a connection to an interest. National security may be identified by some as a special interest – a faction. You have a right to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly of how policy decisions impact your business, your industry, and your well-being. This right is enshrined in the First Amendment and has been upheld by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions.

Other aspects of your life are considered special interests as well: health care, insurance, taxation, matters of public safety, national parks protection – to name a few. The tension among competing interests is a healthy dynamic that is also an essential ingredient of our democratic republic. Don’t succumb to the thinking that special interests are bad. Special interests are groups of people sharing common views – some of which may differ from your views, and some of which may align exactly.

There’s a place for you in the public square. Will you use it or watch from the sidelines?

On September 15th, I released my second book, Make Your Move – Charting Your Post-Military Career. This book shares the story of my career to date, and is written to support military professionals who are facing a career transition. All proceeds from the book will go to the Freedom Fighter Outdoors, a charitable organization supporting injured veterans. You can read more and order your copy of Make Your Move – Charting Your Post-Military Career here.

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