Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Democracy requires citizen action.

Democracy requires citizen action. Are you doing your part?

My experience as founder and President of a non-profit 501c-3 taught me that the “leaders” of our Republic can truly be influenced by direct action of their constituents. While many people cynically underestimated the effects that a small group of activists could have on the colossal US government, we stubbornly moved forward.

We formed action groups, wrote analysis white-papers that we faxed to the representatives on a regular schedule, and met our representatives whenever they were in town. Our persistence paid off. When we started, the Democrat representatives thought that Hugo Chavez was a “harmless clown”, or a “democratically elected leader” who was “honestly concerned about the poor.” They didn’t take us seriously at first. But over time, we won a few key Congressmen and Senators over to our side. Eventually, they told us that they even found our analysis more credible than the analysis they received from the Department of State, and our understanding of the issues deeper and more reliable than “experts” such as the Carter Center.

Our nation is now at another crossroads. If concerned citizens sit idly by, waiting for the leaders to lead in the right direction, they will be disappointed with the results. Democracy requires direct citizen action. And you need to do your part.

Many people want to help, but don’t know how. So here is a step-by-step plan to get you started.

1. First, create a list of your representatives.
a. Click on the link to Congress.org
b. In the box titled MY ELECTED OFFICIALS, input your ZIP code and click GO.
c. The names of your Congressmen and Senators will appear.
d. Make a list of these Representatives.
e. Click the link to each of them.
f. Click the Contact tab, and gather all the contact information about the individual. Put it in your list. Be sure to get the FAX number!
2. Each representative also has a link to his/her website. Go to their homepage and search for dates of their Townhall meetings they are going to have during the recess.
3. If there are no meetings scheduled, call the local office for the representative and demand a schedule of those events.
4. Identify your two or three top concerns.
a. Research those concerns. Find articles and analysis written by journalists or organizations you respect and trust. Do NOT use blogs. Use only respected news and analysis sources.
b. Create a document on each of those topics, and cut and paste the best pieces of analysis, quotations, statistics, etc. from the articles.
c. Always include the SOURCE, in case you are challenged on the veracity and quality of your citations. Trust me: when challenged publicly, they will often try to belittle the constituent in order to make you look incompetent or misinformed. The ability to quote directly from trusted sources will stop that immediately.
d. Create a folder of these documents, and carry them with you to every meeting so you can refer to them.
5. Plan on attending every townhall meeting you can.
6. Create a network of people who share your opinions, and disseminate the dates and locations of the meetings, and encourage your friends to join you. Strength in numbers!
7. Create a brief, respectful but forceful letter on each of your concerns.
a. Address all letters directly to each of your representatives.
b. Save the letter as a form letter that you can use to send to each representative so you don’t have to waste time re-writing the letter.
c. Create two copies of each letter: one signed by you, and one with the signature space blank.
i. Give the blank signature page to friends and family and ask them to FAX it to the representative.
d. Do NOT send it yet.
8. Call the representative’s office, and ask for the names of the Aids that focus on your two or three concerns. They will give you those names.
a. Ask to introduce yourself to those individuals.
b. Explain who you are, and inform the individual that you would like to fax a letter to the representative, and to be expecting it shortly.
c. NOW FAX and mail the letter to the representative.
9. The most effective but time consuming thing you can do is to form a group.
a. You will be asked when you call the representative’s office if you are an individual or represent a group. If you can say (honestly) that you have dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of constituents in your group, they will be eager to please.

Now, get off your ass and go put pressure on the idiots ruining the country!

No comments: