We can move public policy in a Libertarian direction by more than just elections. We do this by lobbying our public officials. When lobbying officials, it is important to use both internal and external influences.
1. Attend the public hearings. Most public hearings for the city council, school board, and other public offices are poorly attended. In fact, you may be the only citizen who attends. As one of the few local residents to attend, your opinions can make a real difference in the process.
2. Get to know the staff. You can make a huge difference by meeting with the official’s staff and establishing cordial relations.
3. Become the expert. By studying the facts on a particular topic, or by gathering and presenting information, you can become an important resource for the official’s staff and the community.
4. Meet the official. Make an appointment during business hours, away from the hearing, where you can calmly sit with your public official. Ask the official questions and come to understand his/her passions, motivations, and ideas. The better you know your public officials, the better you can craft effective arguments on your own behalf.
Sometimes, you will find that your internal influence is not enough to persuade a local official. In this case, you must turn to external influences. It is important to remember that after using external influences, you may find that your internal influence has become much stronger. It is important to avoid burning important relationships through external influence.
1. External influence is applied through a sustained publicity campaign to call attention to your issues and concerns.
2. Write letters to the editor explaining your issue and concern. Encourage your friends, neighbors, and family to do the same.
3. When you attend public hearings, seek out the news media and express your ideas to them. Provide written material to support your claims.
4. Use public online forums like blogs, social networking (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, Meetup) to energize and organize a group of concerned citizens. Invite them to attend important hearings.
5. If all else fails, stage a press conference, dramatic demonstration, or rally. Invite the media to attend. Schedule your event on a slow news day (usually Wednesday or Thursday if possible).
6. Most municipalities in Texas have a petition process. You may need to begin a petition campaign.
Top 10 Lobbying Techniques
1. The most important lobbying is done in the lawmakers’ home district through arranging meetings on issues, making calls to the legislators about issues. Effective lobbying requires contacts on a continuing basis.
2. Be well-informed about the issues. Knowledge of the legislator and past positions on similar issues is very helpful.
3. Know your facts and provide data and rationale to support your position.
4. Persuasion is the key, but please use common sense and courtesy.
5. Be concise and to the point. Do not overkill!
6. If you disagree with a legislator, don’t argue. Express reasonably and calmly your well-prepared rationale for your position to the legislator.
7. If you are asked a question you cannot answer, say you don’t know but you will find the answer. Then get back to them as soon as possible. Do not make up an answer or give wrong information.
8. Get to know each legislator’s staff. The legislative assistant usually spends more time studying the issues and is more knowledgeable about specific details of a pending bill.
9. Remember that you do not have to be an expert on every legislative issue. You are the voter within the community the legislator represents!
10. Follow up with a thank you note and keep in touch with your legislator.