The tea party won't stop the lobbyists

As compared to the U.S. system of half a century ago—as compared to other democracies today—power has diffused to a huge variety of points in the Washington of today. The number of people who can deliver a favor has multiplied; the number of people who can prevent unwanted action has multiplied vastly more. As decision points and choke points proliferate, so do the returns from employing people to manipulate those points.

Don’t like that system? Don’t imagine you’ll change it by reshuffling the people at the chokepoints. The only way to reduce lobbying is to reduce the utility of lobbying—and that requires institutional change inside Congress, and then again between Congress and the executive.

The Tea Party program is not going to be helpful here. Rather the contrary: As the Tea Party creates new, informal, and often quite secret power networks inside the Republican congressional caucus, it enhances the value of lobbyists who can decode those networks and put them to use for clients and customers.