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Hire Your Own Lobbyist With New Crowdsourcing Website

Hire Your Own Lobbyist With New Crowdsourcing Website

See that picture up there? That’s a sign I held at Occupy Wall Street protests a few years ago. Well, it looks like someone has finally answered my question. Using a new online tool, regular people will now have a way to hold their elected officials accountable after gaining office.

It’s no secret thatwell-paid lobbyists have stolen democracy from the people and handed it to special interests on a platter. Citizens United opened the flood gates of corporate money in politics, but special interest lobbying was going on long before that. In America, lobbying takes many forms, from providing favored candidates with money or special services, to circulating petitions and writing their own legislation.

Exerting this type of pressure on politicians can be a full time job, and many lobbyists are just that: hired hands paid an attractive salary to push an agenda. Average citizens are far too busy trying to make a living to engage in this time-consuming process, so they often have little recourse against powerful lobbyists–until now.

Launching this week is Amplifyd, a crowdsourced social activism platform that makes it possible for people to support causes in their community (and the nonprofits fighting for those causes) by sponsoring someone to call and lobby their elected officials on their behalf.

“Americans spent more than $2 billion attempting to rally our favorite politicians into elected office during the 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns alone – not including state, county or local elections,” states a new release. “Yet how much do we spend making sure these officials are representing our best interests after they are elected? Practically nothing.”

Scott Blankenship, Founder and CEO of Amplifyd, says the new platform will help put political influence back in the hands of voters, even if they can’t be full-time activists. Current campaigns include organic milk at Starbucks, old growth logging in California, fracking and smarter gun laws.

As a crowdsourced lobbying platform, people can purchase any number of calls from campaigns listed on the site. For each call bought, someone will call and lobby the elected official of the person that bought the call.Amplifyd verifies supporters through their billing address so only people living within the community of the campaign to purchase calls. As a result, elected officials know calls are only coming from voting constituents and no one else.

The idea has obvious benefits for time-strapped voters, but it could also help citizens in another important way: job creation. Anyone can sign up to become a paid caller, and if hired, could make $12-$30 an hour making calls for others. All that’s needed is a computer, an internet connection and the ability to read a script and click a button.

It will be interesting to see how Amplifyd fares in its first few months of existence. While it has advantages over other forms of online activism, it’s still a depressing commentary on the state of democracy in America. Voters are so apathetic, frustrated or both that personal engagement in the political process is nearly out of the question. We just don’t want to deal with it anymore. So, like lots of other things we can’t be bothered with, we’re just going to throw money at it instead? For some reason that makes me sad.

What do you think: Is Amplifyd a smart way to fight back against big money in politics or a cop out? Tell us in the comments.

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Image Beth Buczynski

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40 comments

+ add your own
8:52PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

noted

5:07AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Noted

3:57AM PDT on Jun 14, 2014

Anyone 50+ is supposed to have the AARP lobbying for them. Haven't you noticed yet ? I'm still waiting.

10:11AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

You know what's sad? That we actually need something like this. I mean, in representative government we should expect that our representatives will represent us without us having to pay someone to represent us. If it wasn't for the fact that America was never a democracy to begin with, I'd be inclined to believe that democracy has failed.

7:45AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

Flood Congress with real live populist lobbyists with high money bribes. The legislators will foam at the mouth to take the funds. Maybe if we overwhelm them with $$$$$$$$ they will pass laws to eventually get rid of bribes and lobbyists.

3:35AM PDT on Jun 13, 2014

ty

10:52PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Reading from a script is fine, but they damn well better understand the issues when they get questioned. It really doesn't take that long to leave a message fror congress critters. That's why the public can do it. What the lobbyists get is FaceTime and a chance to peddle their influence (aka, cash).

7:45PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Great idea! Wish this could happen in Australia - we have just the same problems.


I have always referred to lobbying as a legal form of bribery.

6:41PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Sounds promising :) better than nothing! Could help give petitions more weight as well

2:17PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Sounds neat.

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