Winning on issues: How to be a successful citizen lobbyist

Discussion in 'Previous Bills' started by Mike from Philly, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. Mike from Philly

    Mike from Philly New Member

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    Here is an interesting explanantion of the anti's methods of lobbying:


    http://www.wellstone.org/organizing_corner/article_detail.aspx?itemID=4922&catID=4891

    Winning on issues: How to be a successful citizen lobbyist

    02/28/2005
    Members in Action
    Read about one Wellstone Action member's experience fighting a major national issue campaign.

    Brian Malte is a Wellstone Action member and graduate of Camp Wellstone. He serves as the Outreach Director of the Brady campaign. Here he describes the Brady Campaign's successful fight to stop the NRA in its tracks on a policy issue.

    THE ISSUE

    Last year, the National Rifle Association and other extremists in the gun lobby urged Congress to enact sweeping, unprecedented immunity legislation that would deny innocent victims of gun violence their day in court, give the most reckless gun sellers an “escape all responsibility†card that exempts them from common law principles of negligence, and throw out pending cases that have been held legitimate by the courts.

    But this awful legislation was defeated last year in the 108th Congress through a combination of grassroots lobbying, targeting, media outreach, and a strong legislative strategy. Although the media and the gun lobby were stunned at our victory we knew that leveraging our support and focusing on key areas to maximize our efforts could pay off. We overcame the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced by defeating the NRA’s top priority. This is the story of how the Brady Campaign united with the Million Mom March, and the gun violence prevention movement, outsmarted the NRA and beat them at their own game through an intense and multi-pronged issue campaign.

    GETTING ORGANIZED

    Early on, we took stock of our friends and allies on the national level and in the states. We began educating our Million Mom March chapters and our state allies on our strategy and urged them to engage their local membership on the importance of protecting the rights of gun violence victims. Our field staff worked closely with those activists in key states where we needed Senate votes. Field staff, Million Mom March chapters, and allied state organizations worked to put on press conferences and attract local allies outside of the gun violence prevention movement to join us to put pressure on the key Senators.

    We also engaged volunteers in non-targeted states in phone-banking our members in key states. Activists wanted to feel a part of the fight, even if their elected officials were voting with us.

    In states where we did not have Million Mom March chapters or a core of activists, we relied on paid phone calling to our member list to ensure that calls from our side were getting into key Senate offices. Our members were educated on the issue, and then asked if they wanted to be passed through to their Senator. This was particularly effective in smaller states where a few phone calls can really make an impact.

    All along we kept our Million Mom March chapters and allies updated on the latest from Capitol Hill. Keeping our best activists plugged-in allowed them to have more buy-in into the process. We used multiple vehicles for our communications including: Our yearly activist conference and lobby day, weekly newsletters, live conference calls with chapter leaders, and in-person meetings with national, allied organizations.

    Using a coalition model, we also set out to educate and urge our allied partners outside the gun violence prevention arena to sign on to oppose the NRA’s Immunity legislation and to urge them to send out alerts and e-mails to their members to do the same.

    COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

    We used a combination of national activist call-in days to Capitol Hill along with e-mail alerts to our activists and to our e-advocates on our StoptheNRA.com web site. To make the greatest impact on our key Senator, we worked with other e-advocacy groups such as Act For Change, our own StoptheNRA.com, our Million Mom March chapters, and our other allies to time the calls and e-mails so that they all hit at the same time. Otherwise, we would have severely diluted our effectiveness if calls and e-mails only “trickled†in to Capitol Hill offices.

    FACE TO FACE MEETINGS

    Face-to-face meetings with key Senators also played an important role. On Capitol Hill, our Legal Action Project and our federal lobbyists accompanied gun violence victims to talk to key Senators.

    We also worked with our activists in key states to visit Senate offices in their own states either with the Senator and/or his or her staff to let them know where we stood on the issue.

    LESSONS FROM OUR VICTORY

    * Reinvent yourself: Each year we go through this battle we must continually strive to find the most compelling stories and anecdotes to keep our issue fresh and to energize our base of supporters.
    * Protect from activist burn out: By keeping your core activists in the loop and bought into your legislative strategy you can ensure that they will be there for your cause. This includes weekly updates via e-mail, timely conference calls with local leaders and allowing your state and local groups to have some creativity in how they can best put pressure on key legislators.
    * Be honest but positive: While many in the media wrote us off last year, we prevailed. We let our core activists know that defeating Immunity and the NRA would be a very tough fight, but we were confident that we could prevail if everyone pulled in the same direction.
    * Don’t cry wolf: It is easy to burnout activists by asking them to respond to too many “urgent†alerts. It was important for us to gauge whether it was an opportune time to deploy an action alert especially if we have just issued one just recently. Too many “urgent†alerts can lead to diminishing returns. Again, their buy-in to the overall strategy, lots of communication and education, and a little bit of flexibility and creativity can go a long ways in keeping activists fresh and focused.
    * Two-way street, keep those relationships strong: We have learned that defeating an organization as big as the NRA means that we must engage and leverage the support of many allied organizations. Just like any organization we are striving to create a “win-win†situation with our allied partners and building relationships over many years.

    109TH CONGRESS AND THE NRA’S IMMUNITY LEGISLAITON KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING

    We are facing this same fight again in this year’s Congress. The battle will be just as tough if not tougher than last year. The gun lobby is likely to follow the same legislative path as in the 108th Congress. Again, our best prospects are for defeating the bill in the Senate. We will once again need to focus our efforts and conserve our resources to fight the battle in the Senate.

    We believe we can beat the gun lobby again. Regardless of the outcome, we will hold those members of Congress accountable in 2006 elections for the votes they will take on the NRA’s Immunity legislation.

    As we speak, the NRA has already introduced legislation in the 109th Congress that would limit the legal rights of gun violence victims (H.R. 800 and S. 397). We will use many of the same tactics we used last year to defeat this terrible legislation and we are already incorporating new and fresh ways to look at the same issue.

    The same basic strategy we employed successfully in the 108th Congress remains viable. It would be a tragedy to see the stunning victory we obtained on behalf of gun violence victims be undone in the 109th Congress, and we will continue to fight with everything we have to protect them and future victims.

    HOW YOU CAN HELP

    Tell your Senators to oppose S. 397, a bill that would deprive gun violence victims of their legal rights. Reckless gun sellers should not get special legal privileges. Go to: www.bradycampaign.org to look up your Senators’ phone numbers or to send them an e-mail.
     
  2. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmmmm . . .

    It didn't work!