How Do I Lobby for Support?
A Brief Citizens’ Guide to Successful Lobbying
The key to successful efforts to lobby and persuade a state legislature to support the Initiatives Amendment is to find several legislators who will become committed advocates. Finding these advocates is largely a process of luck and of trial and error. The Citizen who decides to take on the job needs to find legislators who are predisposed to listen and support the Plan.
The initial contact will usually be through the legislator’s staff, who will want to protect the legislator from cranks and time-wasting meetings.
The best place to start is with persons in the state legislature who you know or to whom someone can introduce you. Your local district representative should be willing to give you a few minutes at a minimum. If you do not have any leads, an inspection of legislators’ on-line biographies should provide a helpful starting point. Potential advocates may have one or several of the following characteristics:
- Wants to make a real contribution for change
- Finds federal government’s excesses to be unacceptable
- Big money shuts out the legislator from running for Congress
- Strong supporter of state’s rights
- Is a scholar of constitutional issues
How do I Find Congressional and State Legislature and Candidate Rosters?
See Separate FAQ: How do I Find Candidate’s Addresses?
- Start your word-processor or text-editor with your basic letter and save it
- Copy the letter to your computer’s clipboard.
- Paste the letter into the addresses you find from Project Vote Smart and personalize the text as you wish.
- Add the subject line “Initiatives Amendment” and send
If the legislator or staff that you initially contact is unwilling to promote the Plan actively, they may still be extremely helpful by giving introductions to people who will be willing and able. Following a series of introductions and referrals will eventually succeed if you keep trying and ignore the rebuffs.
A presentation to a legislator’s staff will usually be longer than to the legislator. With a legislator, attention for a one-page overview with a half-dozen key points is normally all you can expect. Their staff, on the other hand, may be interested in a complete slideshow.
The following presentation materials are a starting point:
- You will need the two-page executive summary as a guide and handout when you make an initial contact.
- If you may have time, use the Slideshow presentation. If you are familiar with PowerPoint, you can modify it to fit your style.
- If PowerPoint or the PowerPoint Viewer are not installed on your computer, download the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer and install it on your computer.
- Download the slideshow.
The file is about 800KB, so you will need a broadband Internet connection. Choose to save or play the slideshow. The slideshow should start automatically when you play it.
- (If it does not start, double click on your downloaded slideshow, filename: slideshow.ppt.The slideshow presentation should appear on your monitor.)
- To run your slideshow full-screen, click on the slideshow icon, which is usually in the bottom right corner of the screen.
- If you download it onto a laptop and connect a projector, you have a ready-made presentation that you can tailor to your style.
- On most systems, the Page Up key advances the slide, Page Down goes back, and Esc ends the show.
- You can print the four-page summary in color and on good paper for an effective handout.
- Make a printout the detailed reasons why state legislators have compelling reasons to support the Plan.
To make a successful presentation, you should be thoroughly familiar with the Plan and able to answer most questions without hesitation. You should run through your presentation about a half-dozen times, recording your voice each time (dictation digital recorders are cheap) and afterwards listening to yourself to learn from your errors. Then, you should try two or three presentations to a live audience of willing friends who will ask questions. With a small audience, you should accept questions at any time to encourage a two-way dialogue, but return to your presentation materials to keep your presentation to its agenda.
Try to get someone to introduce you. This could be the legislator’s staff person you previously met or someone who accompanies you.
Email Wording Very Basic Suggestions:
To a friend:
Hi [Friend’s Name],
I think it’s really good and I’m going to support it.
I’m contacting my elected state representatives and candidates to ask them to support it. If they won’t I may not vote for them.
If you share my view please join me in this.
To an Elected Official, Candidate, or Stranger:
Subject: Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment
Dear [Title, Name],
I am a registered voter for your election. / I am a registered voter in your constituency.
The plan at www.cusdi.org offers a solution to the problem of special interests groups’ influence of the U.S. Congress. This plan offers a good solution to the problem of excessive special interests groups’ influence in our federal government. I’m going to support it
Before every election, we hear candidates solemnly pledge to “make a change”. I have decided that support of this solution will be a significant factor in my voting decisions. I sincerely hope that you share my views sufficiently to accommodate them.
[City, State, Zip Code]
Candidate Pledge of Intent:
If a candidate wishes to attract voters by taking a firm stand on this issue, the following declaration of intent (appropriately modified) would achieve that purpose.
CANDIDATE’S DECLARATION OF INTENT
I hereby swear and affirm this declaration of intent without reservation or equivocation before a Notary Public that:
- I will work actively and expeditiously by my best efforts to bring the Citizens’ Initiatives Constitutional Amendment for United States Initiatives and a United States Initiatives Qualifying Assembly (described on the Internet at www.cusdi.org) before the assembly for which I am an elected representative or candidate.
- I will vote in favor of its passage and ratification without impediment. I will encourage other members of my assembly to do likewise.
- I will publicly confirm this declaration of intent to my constituents by publishing an image of it in a newspaper and stating it in my platform so there can be in no doubt as to my position.
PRINT IN BLOCK CAPITALS
First Name: Last Name:
or Candidate Status:
I, a qualified and currently licensed Notary Public, do hereby certify that this declaration of intent was sworn and affirmed before me by the person named above with proper identification at the location and on the date I describe: