Menu Home

The Growth of Political Consultancy

From This Town, by Mark Leibovich, pg 98-99:

The biggest shift in Washington over the last forty or so years has been the arrival of Big Money and politics as an industry. The old Washington was certainly saturated with politics, but it was smaller and more disjointed. There were small and self-contained political consultancies that worked on campaigns or raised money for elected officials or contracted a service (i.e., direct mail). PR people tried to promote a client’s interests in the media, while lobbyists did the same by engaging directly with government actors. But that “sector,” such as it was, typically comprised mom-and-pop operations. It looked outward with some level of fear and humility. It generated some wealth but not enough to make a discernible impact on the city, its culture, and its sensibilities. 

Now those subindustries not only have exploded but have been folded under a colossal umbrella of “consulting” or “government affairs.” “No single development has altered the workings of American democracy in the last century so much as political consulting,” Jill Lepore wrote in the New Yorker. “In the middle decades of the twentieth century, political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money.” 

Over the last dozen years, corporate America (much of it Wall Street) has tripled the amount of money it has spent on lobbying and public affairs consulting in D.C. Relatively new businesses such as the Glover Park Group—founded by three former Clinton and Gore advisers—provide “integrated services” that include lobbying, public relations, and corporate and campaign consulting. “Politics” has become a full-grown and dynamic industry, a self-sustaining weather system all its own. And so much of its energy is directed inward.

Categories: Defensive Elites Digital Elections, Party Politics and Diplomacy Post-Democracy, Depoliticisation and Technocracy

Tagged as:

Mark