osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Why U.S. Chamber Is Losing Influence In DC


This is a little snippet from the U.S. Chamber taking a rather uncontroversial quote from Howard Dean (that human beings have two sets of instincts, one toward selfishness and one toward community, and these influence economic behavior) and turns it into a gratuitous little snipe at a man who doesn't actually have any significance in DC at the moment, except as a symbol to the right.

This is, of course, red meat to the grass roots. But DC influence comes in multiple flavors. There's the power to mobilize a base, the power to provide money, and the power of ideas. Yes, the last actually matters. Having spent the 8 years of the last administration working in opposition for a little public interest law firm operating on a budget of about $500K a year, I can assure you that if ideas did not matter we would have been utterly helpless.

To make an analogy, there's lots of folks who think that because we have a nuclear arsenal, we have the strongest and most invincible army in the world and can do what we want for foreign policy. Anyone who actually knows anything about how military force actually works, and why we use it, understands that what makes our army such a potent force is the quality of our troops, their training and equipment, supply lines, and many more complicated factors.

So too in Washington. The ability to make huge contributions and to mobilize lots of people has power. But ideas and the ability to present them and provide evidence for them likewise has power. Chamber used to be respected for its ideas as well as for the money its members represent. As its focus as shifted to Congress, it has become increasingly just one more org mobilizing the same angry base and lost what unique value and influence it had as a source of ideas.

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