Ethics in political advocacy? That’s crazy talk! But the folks at GW’s Graduation School of Political Management are planning an event this week that proves that they aren’t afraid to take on an apparent oxymoron:
A generation ago, rare was the public policy issue that brought with it an assault of TV advertising, tons of direct mail, dinnertime “robo calls”, or the other features associated with modern “grassroots lobbying”. Now such campaigns are commonplace.
The first amendment affirms the right of citizens to speak freely and to petition the government to redress grievances. And the public policy debates of today are high stakes affairs. So “grassroots campaigns” will be a permanent fixture in American politics and government.
But questions arise: How can the honesty of such campaigns be assured, if at all? Should the public know who is paying for them? Do “town hall meetings” have to turn ugly and near violent to be effective? Are the institutions within our representative democracy strong enough to endure and survive these barrages?
These questions — and others — are being debated every day in Congressional offices, in newsrooms and on the web, in consultants’ quarters and in think tank conference rooms. The Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University believes that is high time that the discussion needs to take place in public, with all sides represented.
Mark your calendar today and plan to be there on January 27. The topic is timely, the argument will be fierce, and the outcome will be important.