Lobbying 101 | Ruffled Sweater and Ankle Boots

Top: ASOS (on sale!) || Bottoms: J.Crew Toothpick jeans || Accessories: Ray Ban sunglasses, Kate Spade necklace (similar here), Kate Spade Cove Street Provence || Shoes: Old Navy (similar here)

I'm standing in front of the Capitol today which may be a good segue to introduce a topic that I've generally avoided on this blog: Advocacy and Lobbying.

In my day job I work as an advocacy researcher which means I spend my days finding helpful data for lobbyists. I know that outside of DC, the term 'lobbying' can be kind of a dirty word but it really shouldn't be.
"Lobbying" is just a fancy term for the practice of individuals or organizations to influence government or politicians into specific policy actions. In other words, if you care about, say, healthcare, you can talk to your member of Congress and share your thoughts and hopefully sway their vote towards what you want. Since activism and politics has been a hot button issue, I wanted to share some basic "Washingtonian" information for all of the non-political people who want to be heard. I also teamed up with Brian who does government relations for international education.

Does my Member of Congress even care?
I've heard so many people outside of Washington who think that talking to their Congressman or woman is a waste of time. I'm going to stop you right there and tell you as a former political intern that Members of Congress absolutely want to hear from their constituents! You are the people who hired them to work for you so you are the ones who matter much more than a paid lobbyist! In fact every interaction with your Member of Congress is documented, cataloged and presented, whether it be an email, a phone call, or a letter.

OK I'll talk but how do I find out who my Member of Congress is?
Easy solution - just go to this website and enter your zip code.

I have some opinions but I'm not an expert on the subject. Can I still talk to my Representative?
Absolutely you can and it shouldn't be intimidating! Your goal is to be heard, not to be an expert on the issue. That said, make sure that the issue you want to talk about is an issue the policy maker you're contacting actually has a say in. For example, don't call your Congressman to discuss a speed bump in your neighborhood or don't call your city councilman about the Muslim ban.

I managed to get a meeting with a my Congressman! What now?
Congrats to you! Here are a few guidelines for interacting with your MoC:

  • Remember first and foremost that this is not a venting session. I know that tempers can run high, especially when it comes to public policy but this is a chance to educate your policymaker about an issue they may not know about. 
  • You're going to have some time constraints - that's just how it is. Your meeting will most likely be 10 to 15 minutes tops. Make sure that you have the crux of the information you want to share down pat. You just won't have time for a Powerpoint presentation with all the bells and whistles. If you have data backing up your point on an issue bring it with you to leave with them but otherwise be concise. 
  • This is your chance to build a relationship with your Congressman and their office which is quite a valuable thing. You may not get everything you want right away from that meeting but building that relationship will be important when it comes to issues that come up in the future. 
  • Don't expect change to happen right away. I think we live in a culture that encourages us to expect instant gratification for things but that's just not how things work in government. Change takes time and a lot of work so don't walk away from lobby meetings feeling jaded that your Representative didn't start an immediate call to action. 






Do you have any questions about advocacy and lobbying? Let me know in the comments and I'll definitely try to answer!

8 comments

  1. This ruffle sweater is so lovely, I love how you styled it!

    http://ariadibari.com

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  2. I am not a Washingtonian,...never been to Washington actually, but I found this interesting and informative! Nice post!

    www.annetega.com

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  3. I love that you're shedding some light on a really misunderstood area- politics + lobbying! Love it, lady- great read. And digging that ruffled top!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  4. Love your outfit! And this is such helpful information about how to reach out to our local reps. Thanks chica :)
    xo Annie
    New England Romance

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  5. Wow! It's really interesting to learn what you do at your day job! This post was definitely informative. :) Really loving your peplum top too!

    xo, Chloe // http://funinthecloset.com/mixing-colors-brown-black/

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  6. Your peplum top is so cute! :) It was nice to read a little more about your job too! I knew you worked in politics but not what exactly :)

    While the Australian system is sure to be different, I think it is important to raise your concerns anyway! In one election I was so upset about a particular issue that I wrote to three local candidates about it. The one who got my vote? The one who not only replied back but also showed by their party's plan to tackle the issue. Hearing back from them was something I shared about with friends and family too. So important to get your voice heard and get involved! And benefitial for politicians to take the time to listen and respond :)

    Hope you are having a good weekend :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

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  7. This was a really informative post, thanks for sharing about your job and how it works :) As I'm not from the US I'm not familiar with political structures and the importance/roles of representatives. But it was still interesting to read and learn something new :)

    Julia x
    Last post: Silky Smooth Skin with Garnier | http://juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/silky-smooth-skin-with-garnier.html

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