Buzzworthy

How to Have a Productive Meeting with Elected Officials

gearsWhen it comes to lobbying, the squeaky wheel tends to get the grease.  And while many different forms of lobbying can produce positive results, the most effective method is to meet with your elected officials personally.

But if you’re going to have a personal meeting with elected officials, you want to do what you need to do in order to get the most out of the visit. You want them to know what you think and why. You want to know what they think – and what they will do. And you want to make it as likely – and easy – as possible for them to agree to say “yes”.

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind that will help you get the most out of it.

Plan Your Visit

Treat it like you would any important business meeting (or at least the ones that you actually prepare for!). Be clear about what you want to accomplish. Identify which members of the legislative body (or council) you need to talk with to help achieve your goals. Elected officials usually won’t give as much priority to people who are not in their districts, so be sure to meet with the ones who represent YOU. If you don’t live in their district, take someone with you who does. Know what you want to say beforehand. Prepare a fact sheet or position paper that you can leave with them AFTER the meeting is over, (along with your contact information).

Schedule an Appointment

The “higher up” the political food chain the official is, the more staff they are likely to have. For local (and some state) officials, you can probably contact them directly. Federal officials with have a scheduler that you will need to contact to arrange a meeting. Explain your purpose and why you want to meet with them. Make sure that you have an understanding of how long the meeting will last. Elected officials typically like them short and sweet. Fifteen minutes is a good rule of thumb.

That’s enough time for you to accomplish two goals: 1) tell them what you want them to do and why, and 2) get feedback so you know what to expect from them, (and if whether or not they need more pressure from others who think like you do).

Be Prepared

Make sure that you have accurate information and material available on your issue. Elected officials have to deal with many issues, and it’s possible that they might not have the information that you can provide. Remember that there are always two sides to any issue (at least), and the more you know about the arguments of the opposition, the more effective your information should be in countering it.

Remember, frame the “problem” to fit your “solution”. Of course this doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. The most important points for you to get across are why the issue is important to you, and that you feel passionately about it. You’re a citizen with concerns. More importantly (to them), you’re a registered voter.

Be On Time and Be Patient

When seeing any elected official, be punctual. But remember, it’s not uncommon for them to run behind schedule or to have meetings get interrupted. If there is an interruption, be flexible. If possible, continue the meeting with a member of their staff.

Don’t Be Intimidated

Don’t let yourself get nervous or intimidated. Sure, you’re on their turf, but you’re also their boss. They work for you. Just remember to be polite about it. You’ve got something they want (your vote…and maybe even your help).

Pin Them Down

Elected officials will usually try to be noncommittal because as soon as they take a position they probably make someone angry. They would rather just listen politely, empathize, then shake hands and lead you to the door. Your job is to get to the bottom line. Sure it’s nice to have the satisfaction of being heard, but where do they stand at the end of the day? Be polite, but pin them down. (For example, “I’m glad that you’re concerned, but will you vote for or against the bill?” or, “I’m glad to hear you agree in concept, but will you cosponsor the bill?”) They may not like it, but they will respect you for it.

Be Political

Most elected officials try to represent the best interests of their constituents, (or at least the good ones do). Whenever possible, draw a correlation between what you want and the interests of your community, (i.e. their district). Show them that you are not the only one who feels the way you do.

They may not want to take your side in order to avoid taking “heat” over the issue, but you could offer to help solve this problem by working to counteract the heat. Offer to write supportive letters-to-the-editor, phone calls to local talk radio, or even send out a press release from your group thanking them for their support. Find out what “cover” they may need to help get them over the line. Offer to work with their staff to get it done. Be helpful and make it easy for them to say yes.

Be Responsive

If an elected official expresses an interest in your issue or request, be ready to answer questions or provide any additional information they may need. Afterwards, follow up with a thank-you letter highlighting your discussion, (especially if they agreed to anything), and include any additional information they may have requested.

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In our system of government, the squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, and given that the percentage of people who take the time to meet personally with elected officials is so incredibly low, it shows commitment on your part. And it lets them know just how squeaky you might be.

If done consistently and professionally, meeting with your elected officials will help you be a much more effective advocate for the things that you care about. Building relationships with them will not only further your credibility as a citizen (or organization), but it will also provide opportunities for you to have a greater impact for the conservative cause in the future.

Make sure to get the most out of it!

What are you going to do about it?

political activismDo you spend more time than you would like complaining about things going on in government?  That’s not unusual.  In fact, it’s pretty much a prerequisite (or at least a direct symptom) of democracy.

Government is run by imperfect people who represent a lot of other imperfect people with a lot of different philosophies and points of view…and some of them seem to just represent themselves.

Anyone who’s paying attention (which ideally should be everyone) can find something to complain about.  But is that as far as you go?  Or do you ever think about taking action?

Don’t Just Complain

Is “Common Core” being pushed on your (up until now) good school district? Grading standards being dumbed down?  What are you going to do about it?  Have you attended a school board meeting and spoken out?  Carried a crew of other angry parents with you to do the same?

Is your local public school board trying to pass a millage increase, all the while spending record amounts of money on extra layers of educrats?  What are you going to do about it?  Just cuss when you get the tax bill?  How about starting a petition campaign to oppose it?

Is your county about to vote on another wasteful bond referendum?  What are you going to do about it (other than pay for it later)?  Have you written a letter to the editor?  Print it as a flyer and leave it on doors in your neighborhood, or cars in the parking lot at the next council meeting.

Are you tired of so few people who seem to know much of anything about what your local government is doing?  What are you going to do about it?  Start a Facebook page, online newsgroup or a simple website.  Maybe set up an email list and keep people up to date with what’s going on.  Encourage everyone you know to share it with others.

Sick of elected officials who don’t listen, or who make promises but don’t deliver after they’re elected?  What are you going to do about it?  Have you tried to help someone else get elected?  Volunteered or made a contribution? How about talking with others who think like you do and trying to recruit someone to run for office?

Get Involved

The main reason to “do something” is because it’s your responsibility, since you live in a country where you have the right to political activism.  But another reason is because even if you just simply speak up, it lets other people like you know that they’re not alone.  When they see that, they’re more likely to speak up or take action too.

If you don’t “do something”, odds are you’ll have even more to complain about later.  But when you get involved, things change.

Take a moment right now and make a conscious decision to “do something”.  Then make a note so you don’t forget.

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Have any examples of how you were able to get involved that you think would encourage others?  Share it in the comments below.

Buzzworthy: free speech, Obamacare, amnesty and more

Buzzworthy news and notes from around the web…

free speech 1Sign of the times: Evangelist arrested in London for preaching homosexuality is a sin

Tony Miano, a retired deputy sheriff from Los Angeles County, Calif., was arrested in London, England, earlier this week for preaching on abstaining from sexual immorality, both heterosexual and homosexual, in downtown Wimbledon. He was found to be in violation of Public Order Act Section 5, for “using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult,” Miano said in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday. … (read more)

Examples like this are a warning sign to where we’re headed if we don’t change direction soon. Expressions of religion become “hate speech” because someone might feel “judged”.

Fool me once: Why Obamacare threatens amnesty

The Obama administration’s instinctive dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law are finally catching up with it. Few Republicans in the House — even those who devoutly want immigration reform — trust the Obama administration to enforce with consistency and integrity anything that passes Congress. … (read more)

In other words, maybe, finally, enough of our folks have learned not to take this guy at his word? According to this article from Fox News, maybe…

House Republicans won’t vote on Senate amnesty, to pursue smaller measures

House Republican leaders on Wednesday reaffirmed that they do not plan to vote on the “massive” Senate immigration bill, and instead will pursue a series of smaller bills, after a rowdy closed-door meeting with the rank and file. … (read more)

Keep those cards and letters going folks…

(Sponsor: 37 Things that Sell Out After a Crisis)

Obamacare: What conservatives should do next

Given last week’s devastating announcement that the Administration cannot implement Obamacare’s employer mandate next year without costing jobs, many conservatives have pondered the best course of action for Congress to take in response. The strategic options are many, but the choice should be clear: Congress should refuse to spend a single dime implementing this law. …(read more)

The “power of the purse” isn’t much of a power if we don’t use it.  Click here and speak out!

With Dems on defensive, GOP has chance to recapture Senate

What’s the outlook for the 2014 Senate elections? The Republicans once again have a chance to overturn the Democrats’ majority, as they did in 2010 and 2012. …(read more)

Well, between the implosion of Obamacare, IRS abuse, and judicial overreach on gay marriage, (just to name a few), the table is set…but it depends on having candidates that will truly embrace conservatism and welcome the party base. TBD.

From the “big surprise” department: Justice Department had a role in organizing Trayvon Martin protests

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents in response to local, state, and federal records requests revealing that a little-known unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Community Relations Service (CRS), was deployed to Sanford, FL, following the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman. …(read more)

Nothing like having a government that goes the extra mile to be impartial, huh? (Next up: we’ll find they’ve got Al Sharpton on a “street march” retainer)