Part of that involves knowing where to focus.
There is a tendency in American politics to focus too much of our time and attention on federal elected officials. Granted, the folks in DC spend way too much time and money sticking their noses into things that shouldn’t concern the feds, but don’t let that distract you from spending any time focusing on state and local government.
State and local grassroots lobbying can leverage your assets!
Leverage your numbers:
Since grassroots lobbying is all about local activists working to effectively communicate with and influence elected officials, the more local the office, the greater the potential influence you can have.
While the average member of Congress represents over 700,000 people (and millions per Senator), the average state legislator may represent between 60,000 and 160,000, depending on your state. And when it comes to city or county councils, or school boards, the numbers are even lower.
Result? The lower down the political “food chain” your lobbying target is, the larger a percentage of constituents you represent, and the greater your potential political leverage will be.
Leverage your time:
Generally, state legislatures have shorter sessions that run from January through April. There are some states (such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California) that have “full time” legislatures that run from January to December, with recesses only in the spring and fall.
The point is that they generally have less time to deal with whatever they are going to deal with. Focused grassroots lobbying efforts can help issues see the light of day in otherwise crowded schedules.
Leverage your expertise:
Another nuance to keep in mind is that state lawmakers don’t often have well-rounded expertise on every issue, (no, really!) Many are working full-time at other jobs and legislating on the side. This is even more true at the city/county/school board levels.
In other words, your state representative may be a banker and know a great deal about the economy, but know very little at all about education.
Further, unlike members of Congress, state legislators tend to have little or no staff – much less so at the local level.
As a member of a team that might have extensive knowledge of certain issues, you can be a tremendous asset to your locally elected officials, (especially the friendly ones).
This is a grassroots lobbying opportunity. Get to know them and then offer your help!
Don’t let a focus on Washington, DC distract you from what’s going on locally.