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MARCH ON WASHINGTON.
Those words used to strike fear into the hearts of the city's officials.
Now the phrase is music to their ears, because the people who come march to the beat of a different drummer.
These visitors, who meet in Washington by the tens of thousands each week, don't wear bandannas and thrust their fists into the air. They wear double-breasted suits and shake hands with senators at sumptuous banquets.
Their meetings no longer make it to the evening news. Instead, they're videotaped for promotional films or reported on in slick newsletters. That's because Washington meetings are no longer put together by political outsiders. Now it's association executives--well-paid insiders--who call in the troops.
Take the American Society of Association Executives as an example. Last year its annual legislative conference--called "Associations Defense Day"--was billed as a forum to show money-hungry Congress why associations deserved to keep their tax-exempt status. "We wanted a conference name that would grab people," says Michael Jawer, ASAE's issues administrator. "We figured the best offense is a good defense."