How To Lobby Elected Officals
After being challenged by a very intelligent man to learn to debate, I was encouraged to look at laws and legislature from two sides. There are at least two sides to everything, the side I agree with and the side I do not agree with. As a lobbyist I have no credibility if I only understand one side of the debate.
A disturbing trend today is shutting down debate. Frequently convictions are called hate speech. For instance there is a tendency to call a person who does not completely agree with you a hater. This kind of speak is effective at shutting down conversation. Having been on the wrong side of this kind of debate I assure you it is emotional abuse of the worst kind.
My assertion is two people can have good dialog and speak to each other with respect if they know both sides of a matter, keep calm take turns listening and keep talking until they agree to disagree. It is perfectly O.K. to disagree with someone. It is not O.K. to attack a persons conviction or damage reputations just to win an argument. When you lobby you won't always like the other point of view or feel like you are doing any good. Most important is being patient, persistent, polite and professional.
Somewhere I heard, If your are going to have convictions you better have a paper trail, so there is evidence to convict you. My check book shows where my money goes. Now is the time for my hubs to reflect what many of you may suspect. Reviewing this writing in 2013 it is more evident grassroots lobbying is done at your own risk. Listening to senate hearings and stories told how government invaded private lives of grassroots lobbyist deeply saddened me This though is no surprise. The Patriot Act has been used on people who don't agree with those in power. When only one side of a story is told, told and retold the general populace will come to believe even the most blatant lie. The depth of love for my country forces me to continue; here is my story and some ideas about what you can do to keep freedom alive.
My Boston bred mother and California bred father made a pretty radical combination. They met in Georgia. My dad;s division got a bad batch of yellow fever vaccinations. The entire group came down with yellow fever on their way to Europe. They stayed at Fort Benning until they were able to travel. Mom was a nurse stationed at Fort Benning.
Before that happened...
Dad's father a German immigrate, somehow ended up in the Colorado Volunteers and went to the Philippines to fight in the Spanish American War. His father before him was a highly decorated soldier and doctor in Germany. Great grandfather immigrated to America because he could no longer tolerate the policies of the Kaiser. It could be said I was born into political activity. It could be said that our family is patriotic and joined the military for the love of country. Yes, that could be said, but I also know we enjoy eating and sometimes the military is the place to get food and lodging. It has also been the place for education. My attestation to the military was three years as a Navy wife. I have worked in the public and private sectors and have personal experience with how government works or at times doesn't work.
John Steward Mill
What Is A Lobbyist?
Princeton Review gives an interesting example of what a lobbyist does. Basically a lobbyist seeks to gather support for causes he has interest in whether for profit or satisfaction. Lobbyist have a dirty name in mainstream media if they are conservative and fiscally responsible. Lobbyist are who are not conservative are considered activists. Political activists and lobbyist do the same thing. I am undecided which makes the most money. We hear a lot about lobbyist making money, but there have been some political activist like the Reverend Jessy Jackson who for many years has traveled around the world with an opinion on all things "Unfair". I have always wondered about his income. Bill Ayres has also been of interest to me. His income is much more apparent. Many people who lobby have been in the business or part of the government they lobby. You have seen Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeves lobby for embryonic stem cell research. They lament one aspect of stem cell research, but you probably don't know about amazing results from adult stem cell research. More than 70 diseases can be improved with adult stem cells. Then there is the grassroots lobbyist. The grassroots lobbyist sees what needs to be done and does something to change the situation. That is what I am.
Who loves a child more than their mother and father?
Trust me there isn't a teacher alive who loves all the kids in her class like you love your child.
The First Step Toward Lobbying
Convictions guide grass root lobbyists. Money guides other lobbyist. Since I am unpaid the convictions alone keep me focused on children and family matters. One of my greatest convictions is strong families make for strong societies. Another conviction is the ten commandments make people good friends. If you think about it, the ten commandments only tell you how not to be a jerk. If you cheat on your wife, kill somebody, lie, or steal you are not a good friend. You are a jerk. So the ten commandments are a platform for my convictions. Another of my convictions is that mothers are the most important people in the world. They teach children either by positive model or negative, but they teach nonetheless.
Another of my major conviction is schools do not know better than parents what their children need. Nobody wants a child to succeed more than their parents. Even crummy, drug addicted, imprisoned parents want their children to succeed. Some teachers will go to great lengths to help kids succeed, but not every teacher will love and adore every child. Even the best teachers may not enjoy every child and be the cheer leader a parent can be. As the family deteriorates children are being abused by government, parents, foster systems and the sex trade. It is nearly impossible to fire teachers in California even after they have been convicted of abuse. Often teachers remain on payrolls for years hindering the schools from replacing them with active productive teachers.
My first introduction into lobbying was listening to a woman named Barbara Alby. She later became a member of the California legislature as an assemblywomen. I remember her saying, "Anyone can make a difference in government". Then she said, "Make sure your elected officials know what you think". That was the start. Information about happenings in the state capitol came my way. In those days lobbying was done mainly by phone and snail mail. Today few government offices get snail mail in a timely fashion, so email, fax and the telephone are the best way to lobby you elected officials.
Your sources for information are crucial. I like to be well rounded. I read both sides and talk with people who don't share my opinions. Believe it or not people who don't think like what I stand for are frequently nice and have good intentions . They aren't like me, which is that is fine. Actually, it"s a good thing more are not like me.
Mainstream media sources, internet sources, and various publications like World Magazine are where I garner most of my information. I rarely get any news from television. I suppose if cable were free I might watch TV news, but it isn't. I don't watch the news. Looking at people is a bias in itself. Last month I spent a week with dad and watched his news. That was enough to assure me that I don't miss anything on TV news.
- When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
A school board member takes versions of his state’s standardized tests in math and reading, and realizes something is really wrong with these high-stakes exams.
What To Do
- You find sources of information on the areas you are interested in. I fully intended putting some of my sources in this hub, but have re- considered. The debate over Propitiation 8, which defined marriage; as a union between one man and one woman has turned so terribly ugly that I implore you to find your own sources of information.
- When you hear a bill is coming up in your legislature contact your representative or senator call, email or write a letter to tell them you opinion
- Writing a letter used to be the most effective way to do grassroots lobbying. It was estimated that one letter would represent 50 people. Since anthrax scares this is not at all effective if lobbying Washington DC.
- Email your elected official. Be clear, concise, informed and polite
- Call your elected official . Be clear concise, informed and very polite about what you want your official to know and do.
- Follow their record.
- When you notice they have done something worthwhile let them know. When they haven't let them know.
- Find like minded people to gather together and go visit your official. Officials like to tell you nobody else has your opinion, but that is never true.
- Begin small. You have the most effect lobbying local officials. For instance, interacting with your city council or school board can be is very powerful especially if you know the officials personally.
- Know your facts. What is the bill number, who authored it, and the details of the bill.
Know the details of your bill, the aides you speak with on the phone will sometimes can give you interesting details. Frequently you will get,"Your are mistaken there is no bill like that"
In California near the end of the legislative session this could be true.
California lawmakers have a rule called gut and amend. A bill will pass out of committee, a total rewrite is done. Sometimes the subject is completely changed, then passed along as though it is the original bill. It doesn't sound very legal in my opinion, but that's government for you.
Still, know your facts. Know your officials, let them know that you know all about them. Then let them hear from you regularly and politely. You have more sway if you are polite. Always thank the aid by name at the end of a conversation. If you are nervous write a script, practice several times. Then call. You can be a lobbyist, you can do it!
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