My friend Michael Markarian at the HSUS forwarded me this interesting Washintgon Post article about the "villification" of lobbyists by the presidential campaigns. Those quoted in the article (like Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS and Sister Snowe Campbell of Network, a group that lobbies for humanitarian causes) make the very good point that, despite the rhetoric, not all lobbyists are evil. In fact, very few lobbyists are actually evil -- and most of those are in jail.
The difference highlighted in the article is between special interest lobbyists and "cause" lobbyists. Those quoted argue that anyone who lobbies on behalf of good causes, like animals or the environment or ending poverty, should not be put in the same category as those that lobby on behalf of corporations or less "feel good" issues.
I tend to agree with that statement, but would take it one step further. Lobbying itself, no matter who does it or for what cause, is not evil. Sure, I disagree with many of the causes that people lobby on and I, personally, would not want to be involved. But so long as the people doing the lobbying for those causes actually feel strongly about what they're doing, I've got no problem with the profession they've chosen.
Sure, they are horribly misguided and I feel sorry for them, but they aren't evil. Frankly, I think the rhetoric on the campaign trail is really harming what should be considered a worthwhile and, in some cases, downright noble practice.