Grassroots Tips

Know the Facts Before You Lobby

resources listDo you know everything that you need to know about what you’re trying to have an impact on?

Before you set out to have an impact on any particular issue it helps to have more than just a thumb-nail view of the facts in order to be able to make a case for what you believe.

Whether it’s plain old citizen-lobbying of a local council, or the multi-million dollar corporate variety, good research is the foundation of good lobbying – but good research can require a lot of work.

The problem for elected officials is the huge number of issues that scream for attention. They don’t have the time to follow the nuances of every piece of legislation, but they put their name, reputation and possibly their career on the line with every vote. As a result, good information is invaluable.

The rule is this: do the work for them.

Politicians aren’t super-human and don’t know everything about everything (you probably knew that already), and can’t learn it all. Though as individuals they may know more about various subjects, most of them are forced to be generalists. So part of the job of good lobbying is to be an expert on the issues you want to advocate.

Things that elected officials need to know about legislation or proposals:

  • The details of any proposal
  • How it changes current law or the status quo
  • How those changes will impact their constituents

Without that knowledge, most elected officials can only hope and pray that they don’t accidentaly stumble into a politically explosive situation, (something most of them try to avoid because they want to get re-elected).

Where do they usually find the information they need to make a decision? A good bit of it comes from educated constituents who have done their homework or who offer the benefit of their own expertise.

In other words, it could be you.  You’re certainly more of an expert on the things you do and the situations you face every day than most politicians.

Spend time researching and organizing information on the issues you want to impact. Then turn it into a resource for friendly elected officials.

Remember, knowledge is power. Get it and use it.

The Importance of Political Confrontation

political confrontationMost people hate confrontation. But given that “politics is people”, (and about people agreeing and disagreeing), effective political participation is almost certain to involve some sort of confrontation at some point.

Most people tend to want to “get along”, (or “play nice”, as your mother probably told you), and that’s admirable in pretty much every aspect of life. But if you’re the only one playing nice in politics you won’t be winning very many battles or making any progress on the things you care about.

Fighting over fundamentals

In recent years the level of acrimony in the political process has increased because we are no longer just arguing about the margins, we are increasingly fighting over many of the fundamental, core values that the vast majority of Americans took for granted not very long ago. The type of values that go to the heart of what kind of country we all want to live in.

But you can’t let acrimony make you shy away from what’s important.

In order to be successful in the political arena, we must practice “effective confrontation”. That means not being reactive, but being proactive and taking the offensive with the kind of tenacity that can endure the potentially long political or legislative process that might lie ahead.

And be very, very, very persistent.

It’s not enough just to know what’s right. If you do a bad job advocating a good principle, you probably haven’t made much progress. If you’re too timid or don’t frame your issues the way you want to begin with, expect your opposition to do it for you.

Unfortunately, conservatives tend to take a defensive posture right from the start on most issues, or we quickly allow ourselves to be put on the defensive by our opposition. As a result, we bear some of the blame for our country’s situation.

Sometimes you gotta’ fight

Democracy requires participation, and sometimes that means political confrontation.

Nobody says you have to be ugly about it. But as with most things in life, you don’t make much progress by being a shrinking violet. You must be willing to advocate what you believe with the same passion that you believe it. Just remind yourself that, as a conservative, there are more people who think like you do than your opposition.

The simple fact is that the differing needs and/or values of different people (sometimes VERY different people) are at odds with one another. Somebody wins and somebody loses, or somebody gets more of what they want than someone else.

If you decide to avoid politics and speaking out for what you believe just because you don’t like being confronted with people who disagree with you or who are mean and call you names, you can’t really be surprised by how things turn out on down the road.

And then it will be too late.

Why Conservatives Should Focus on Precinct Organization

precinct organizationIt’s a truism in politics to say that “all politics is local”, but truisms are truisms because they’re usually true. In this case it’s right on the money.

The precinct is the most “local” unit in American politics.

If you’re not familiar with it, put simply, a “precinct” is essentially your neighborhood. It’s a geographic area with specific boundaries, (usually defined by your state), that surrounds the place where you go to vote. The name of your precinct is listed on your voter registration card.

There are more than 203,000 precincts in the United States, each with an average of about 1,000 registered voters. Politically, they represent the building blocks of the entire American political and electoral system. Every political district in America, (whether school board, local council, state legislature or congress) is just a different combination of different precincts.

They are the pieces to the American political jigsaw puzzle.

Politics (and political power) is all about people

In American politics power flows from the bottom (the precinct level) up, because precincts are where the people are.

Bottom line? If you’re organized in the precincts you can have an influence on multiple elections at all levels.

It also helps in grassroots lobbying campaigns, since most incumbent politicians are interested in getting re-elected – and people who are organized in the precincts tend to get their attention.

Good grassroots organization emphasizes the important role that precincts play by focusing on individuals who are willing to identify, educate and organize others in their own neighborhoods. That goes for campaigns, grassroots lobbying efforts and gaining influence in the Republican Party.

No matter what issue you have a problem with, or what aspect of politics you’re interested in, having an impact at the precinct level means being able to have an impact further up the political food chain.

You could say it’s a case of “think globally, act locally”.


Have other ideas or thoughts? Share them in the comments section below.