ADVOCACY TACTICS

Every MoC (Member of Congress – Senator or Representative) has at least one district office; many have several spread through their district or state. These are public; you don’t need an appointment; you can show up with a small group, even without appointment.

 

1. Find out where your MoC’s local offices are. Do Google search to get this info which is available on his/her official webpage. (Further instructions in The Guide, p. 21.)

 

2. Plan a trip when the MoC is there. Most district offices are open only during regular business hours, 9am to 5 pm, with MoCs most often there on Mondays and Fridays, and most often at the “main” office (in the largest city in district). Plan a time when you and several other people can show up together.

 

3. Prepare several questions ahead of time. Questions should be sharp and fact-based. (See Town Hall “Preparation” #3 in The Guide, p 17, including sample question.)

 

4. Politely, but firmly, ask to meet with the MoC directly. Don’t accept if staffer asks you to leave or offers to take down your concerns. If MoC is not in, ask when he/she will next be in, and say you’ll wait until he/she finds out. Sit politely.

NOTE: On any given weekend, the MoC may or may not actually come to that district office.

NOTE also: Sit-ins can backfire. They work best when your issue directly affects you and/or members of your group. BEING POLITE AND RESPECTFUL THROUGHOUT IS CRITICAL.

 

5. Meet with the staffer. Even if you’re able to get a one-off meeting with MoC, you most often will be meeting with his/her staff also. The district director, or head of the local district office, is best person to meet with.

 

Follow these steps for good staff meeting:

  • Thank them and the MoC for all their hard work. Refer to a specific issue(s) on which they did a really great job.

  • Have a specific “ask”—e.g., vote against X, cosponsor Y, publicly state Z, etc.

    • Be prepared with all the facts regarding why the MoC should act on your measure.   

    • Be sure to phrase your argument in a manner in which it becomes clear to the MoC that it is in HIS OR HER interest to act on your request.

    • If your MoC disagrees with you, be prepared with the many reasons and facts that will help them see that it is not in THEIR interest, nor the state’s interest, to disagree.  In essence, this is the “consequences memo”.  

    • E.g.: Congressman, if you don’t xyz, then terrible things will happen. I know you are a good person and a wonderful congressmen. I know you don’t want that to occur.   Can we work together for a solution?

    • If your MoC simply nods, you have not won them over. 

    • Have a specific timeframe for following up with them.

    • Be prepared to assert all the reasons the MoC should agree with your position and take action.

  • Leave staffer with a brief write-up of your issue, with your “ask” clearly stated and the reasons it is a good idea. This should be in bullet points, and a maximum of one page.   

  • Share a personal story of how you or someone in your group is personally impacted by the specific issue (health care, immigration, Medicare, etc.)

  • Be polite – yelling at the underpaid, overworked staffer won’t help your cause.

  • Be persistent – get their business card and call/email them regularly; ask if the MoC has taken action on the issue.

 

6. Advertise what you’re doing. Communicate on social media, tell local reporters what is happening. Take and send pictures and videos, providing caption(s) describing the visuals. (See example of effective caption in The Guide, p. 22.)

 

Derived from INDIVISIBLE: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda, CHAPTER 4: FOUR LOCAL ADVOCACY TACTICS THAT ACTUALLY WORK

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ADVOCACY TACTICS for DISTRICT OFFICE VISITS: OUTLINE OF STEPS