Changing Your Mind
The Heartsong Center offers a tune-up for your brain

Crap Shoot
New Mexico's multimillion-dollar bet on legal gambling

Salsa Days
The night the lights went out on Jessie's Café

Last Call
Our reporter takes alcohol servers' training

The Songs of the Land
Modern-day Apache Joe Saenz teaches ancient lessons


Columns and Departments
Editor's Note
Desert Diary

Theatre Festival
Cowboy Exhibit
Top 10

Business Exposure
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The Starry Dome
Ramblin' Outdoors
40 Days & 40 Nights
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Henry Lightcap's Journal
Continental Divide

Special Section
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Diana Ingalls Leyba
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Body, Mind & Spirit
The Change We Need
Coping or Healing?

Red or Green
Dining Guide
Mimbres Valley Café
Table Talk

About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e   January 2009

Henry Lightcap's banner

Man of the People

Isn't it about time ordinary folks had a lobbyist of their own?

I am getting somewhat disaffected with the concept of earning a living through the execution of any actual work. Therefore, I have decided I am looking for a new line of work. If any of you fine people hear about a job, please call me at Chateau Lightcap directly, but know in advance that I am somewhat particular in the specific position I am seeking. I am inclined to find something more suited to my quasi-retired work ethic. That's why I believe it's high time for me to find gainful employment as a lobbyist in Washington, DC.

"Why Henry," you might exclaim to yourself, which would be awful strange unless your name is Henry, too. "You are a hard-working, contributing member of society! Why do you want to regress on the evolutionary ladder and become a lobbyist, a profession only slightly more distasteful than clubbing baby seals?"

Allow me to share my vision on becoming a lobbyist: It all revolves around eating expense-account ribeye steaks and quaffing liquor that's older than the average NFL linebacker. Plus, I think I can really make a difference for regular folks like us.

Like me, you've probably grown weary of an endless parade of corn-fed white guys in expensive suits having more influence with our congressmen than the people who voted for them. It seems like every profession and organization has a political lobby at work for them in Washington, making sure that their gravy boat doesn't get overturned. From the AARP to the NAACP, from the NRA to the AMA, lobbyists and their political action committees pound fistfuls of cash into a system based upon the precept that "money talks." Or maybe I'm just being a dried-up, salty old cynic.

I have consumed enough union-made beer to know the simple truth about our system of government. It turns out that we all like the idea of representation in Congress, but we tend to gloss over the fact that is precisely why lobbyists flock to Washington. "We have met the enemy, and he is us," said the cartoon character Pogo, a political savant who is nearly lost in a generation weaned on "South Park." Americans claim to dislike lobbyists unless it's their own self-absorbed lobby being represented. If you are a doctor, you likely support what the AMA does. If you spend your weekends naked in the forest copulating with conifers, you probably align yourself with the Sierra Club lobbyists. Lobbyists represent the interests of their members, and their members are Americans just like you and me (usually).

But I digress from my job-seeking quest. I want to be a lobbyist, too, but instead of representing a profession or a special-interest group, I think I would do just dandy as a lobbyist for you, the average Joe. Unlike a lot of those briefcase-toting, Armani-wearing, fat-cat lobbyists, I think I am more in touch with regular folks. Frankly, I could give a kangaroo-rat's ass whether or not tariffs remain on imported European wheat shipments, but I wouldn't mind if a few laws were passed limiting medical malpractice lawsuits in this country. It really won't bother me if my God-given second-amendment right to purchase a depleted-uranium, Teflon-coated armor-piercing bullet is diminished, but I would really prefer not to have to pay sales taxes on Internet purchases — ever.

So here's my proposition: As Americans, we have been busy kicking in lots of tax money for everything from roads to wars, so there isn't much left to hire a lobbyist. But if every mother-lovin' reader of this column were to just send along a measly $5 bill, I could fill up the truck, toss my boots, bedroll and a cooler in the back, and mosey up to Washington. I'm quite an affable character, what with my straight-leg denim jeans and farmer's tan, so I don't think I'll have much of a problem making friends in Congress. Heck, I'll take 'em to lunch at the local taqueria and treat them to salsa and Mexican beer, and explain things real simple-like to them all. If my substantial powers of persuasion are not enough, I am not against deploying a flotilla of prostitutes and sacks of paper money. If that fails to sway them to our common interests, then I still know a few rough characters who could cuff 'em around a bit until they see the light.

Our Founding Fathers got along just find without lobbyists, and I don't see why we need them now. All it took back then to be a successful legislator was a sense of purpose and an ability to act on one's values and beliefs, with the constituents in mind. If today's system had been around 225 years ago, the British East India tea company would have had a contingent of barristers pushing for Congress to name Earl Gray as the official beverage of the United States. Or the candle makers' union would have had lobbyists pushing for laws restricting the use of whale oil in lamps. Luckily, the elected officials back then spent far more time in partisan attacks and endless jaw-jacking than kow-towing to special interest groups that promised to fund their next election campaign.

Voters issued a resounding mandate for change a couple months ago, and I would like to throw my crusty old hat into the ring of audacity. The time has come for corporations and special-interest groups to take a back seat to the general good, so that things can work for America again. When it comes to simplifying the process, I challenge my fellow countrymen to find anything simpler to send to Washington than Henry Lightcap. . . man of the people!

Henry Lightcap bides his time in Las Cruces until
the people summon him to Washington, DC.



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