To an outsider, the variety of organizations that seek influence in Washington can be startling. There is the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild. There is a lobby for duck hunters and one for motorcyclists. The astonishing diversity of organizations that lobby might give the impression that they represent the full spectrum of American life, from pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce to unions like the AFL-CIO, and from right to left—with plenty of groups, like the National Safety Council, that have no obvious ideological coloration.
But to conclude from this diversity that all Americans have at least some kind of organization looking out for them would be wrong. In decades of researching American political lobbies, we have found that there are huge gaps in who is represented. And, as an old Washington saying goes, 'If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.'"