Lobbyists are often frowned upon for doing the bidding of major corporations. A list of the organizations that spend the most on lobbying, maintained by the websiteOpenSecrets.org, is full of corporations like Boeing, General Electric, and AT&T, as well as associations like the National Association of Realtors.
But lobbyists also represent retired people, unions, and graduate students. “Lobbying shouldn’t be a bad word,” says Mark Huelsman, senior policy analyst at Demos, a think tank that researches issues including democracy.
Huelsman says millennials are especially in need of political access because they face a unique set of economic pressures—from a changing job market where pensions are hard to come by to a lack of affordable housing. Take student debt: Universities and lenders have the resources and tools to lobby policymakers, while students, despite being the most affected, don’t have a voice in the matter.
“There has to be a big, wide, concerted effort to show state legislatures, Congress, even the White House that things really are different for this generation,” says Huelsman.