A Guide to Missouri Politics: The Legislator Turned Lobbyist
Former Rep. Dick Gephardt, now president and CEO of Gephardt Government Affairs, on his old and new jobs
• The process of politics is always the same. You're a servant leader, not an authoritarian leader. You constantly need to be in touch with the public about what they want and their challenges.
• All politics is local. If you take care of the local needs of constituents—whether a street needs paved or a tree needs to be cut down—you can get re-elected.
• Treat people with respect. Know that you don't have all the answers. Work through the issues. I've never seen a big compromise where everybody involved didn't leave completely upset at the end of the day.
• It's the same process in companies: It's trying to find agreement to common problems and getting people to align their goals. Then you can talk about win-win solutions.
• You wouldn’t have term limits in a company or a factory because you lose all of the experiential background and common memory. I used to get asked, "Are you for term limits?" That’s simple. The people decide whether or not they want you to go back.
• I think the job of a lobbyist is mainly an informational, educational role. Any individual should be able to access their legislator and give them information—that’s the nature of democracy. Being able to do that doesn’t mean you have undue influence or are telling someone how to vote. All you’re doing is trying to get information to people who may not have it. Then, they have to make the judgment.
• Politics is always contentious. I often say, "Politics is a substitute for violence," and it can be very tough. That never changes.