Why physicians can be such powerful lobbyists

And lessons for anyone else interested in persuading politicians…

Oliver Sachs demonstrates the power of storytelling by physicians

Oliver Sachs demonstrates the power of storytelling by physicians

From NYT: A professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine and a longtime practicing physician, Dr. Sacks writes not only with a doctor’s understanding of medicine and science but also with sympathy for his patients and an appreciation of their emotional quandaries. His case studies have given us a palpable understanding of what it can be like to have conditions like Tourette’s syndrome, temporal lobe epilepsy, color blindness or memory loss…

These are the stories that can move elected officials. No matter what your profession and passion, it is the stories about real people who will be hurt or helped that advance your cause.

The whole story.



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Sacramento Book Festival Sunday 12 April

Local Author Book Festival – I’ll be there with Personal Political Power In California – 1-4 pm Galleria at the Central Library 828 I Street

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Voting doesn’t matter… except when it does… Ferguson results

Get the GrassRootsGuy training for your lobby day  keynote for your annual convention

Even in high visibility elections with lots of interest it’s difficult to get people to vote and hard to change public policy… lobbying is more likely to be effective

I’m not a big fan of trying to change public policy by voting, as I explain in detail in my books. However, it’s also true that sometimes voting can make a huge difference. It’s important to look for those opportunities and seize them.

Here’s an interesting example of possibility. I make no judgement about this outcome except it illustrates how change might have been implemented more dramatically, but wasn’t. This election was Tuesday April 7.

Like many local and municipal elections across the country, it takes place under the radar… in April, separated from state and national elections. Unless you’re talking about a town like Ferguson – and now, perhaps, North Charleston SC – where an event has drawn national focus, there is little or no coverage by any media.

This year in Ferguson, even with all the turmoil, only 30 percent of the city’s 12,738 registered voters cast ballots. This was widely hailed as a great leap forward since in previous years the turnout was about half that.

The headlines were positive
High voter turnout in Ferguson adds two black council members, for three total
Ferguson election makes history

“The high turnout came despite brutal weather,” The Associated Press says. “Strong storms, including lightning and heavy rain, tore through the region for several hours before noon.”

African-American candidates Ella Jones and Wesley Bell won, along with white candidate Brian Fletcher.

“We knocked on doors. We were all about community outreach and staying positive,” Bell said. “And it brought out the highest turnout in the history of Ward 3. That’s what I’m most proud about — that we reached out to citizens. Residents who have not felt a part of the process.”

Ferguson council members are elected by Ward and candidates were up for election in Ward 1, 2 and 3. The winners:

Ella M. Jones 824 votes
Brian Patrick Fletcher 847 votes
Wesley Bell 494

This election illustrates that low-turnout elections offer great possibility. Just a few voters will make a difference. (Primary elections for state legislatures and the U.S. Congress are another example.) But it also illustrates the difficulty of turning out voters even when there is intense interest.

There are many collateral benefits to a GOTV campaign for special interest groups, but if you look at Return on Time And Resources Invested, your best bet is usually in grass roots and professional lobbying.

If you want some good research on voter turnout, get the book

Lobbying is much easier than getting out the  vote

Lobbying is much easier than getting out the vote

“Get Out The Vote How to increase voter turnout” by Donald Green and Alan Gerber (Brookings Institution Press). They compile solid research and conclude “To generate 1,000 votes your door-to-door canvassing may need to visit 30,000 addresses, making contact with 14,000 registered voters.”

As I’ve said, voting is important and hope you will vote. But if you want to change public policy, your best bet is a strong grass roots lobbying effort that starts the day after the election.

Get the book here:

Keep On Voting After The Election



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More evidence supporting grassroots impact

From New York Times:

David Latimer - Grassroots increases impact of professional lobbyists

David Latimer – Grassroots increases impact of professional lobbyists

“Quite frankly, 95 percent of the members of Congress don’t want to hear from a lobbyist,” said Mr. Latimer, who still serves as the executive director of the South Carolina Troopers Association. “A sheriff, a trooper, a chief of police, if the message is coming from them, it makes it much more likely they will listen.”

Maximum impact comes when professional lobbyists are supported by well-connected grassroots advocates.

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Ted Cruz on the power of grass roots

Trolling through the black hole of the Internet this morning and stumbled on this

Grassroots advocates can have plenty of power

Grassroots advocates can have plenty of power

from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz:

“Few things focus the mind of politicians more than hearing from large numbers of their constituents.”

The complete article from Weekly Standard

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Professional Lobbyist Discusses Power Of Money

Money talks, but not as loud as you think… how should key contacts discuss contributions during the ask?

Basic rule: Never discuss or mention campaign contributions during an ask session. Separate any hint of money in time and place. If you want to contribute or discuss a contribution, stay out of government buildings and never, ever relate your contribution to your issue.

Doing otherwise may violate the law and will certainly offend the elected official.


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Train Grass Roots Advocates For A Long Haul

Grass Roots Training Get The  Book Personal Political Power In California

Rep. Kingston worried about the constant battering from constituents which argues for more focused messaging as explained in the book.

A most frequent cause of failure in a grass roots effort is that volunteer advocates wear out and lose hope. It’s important to raise awareness that any major effort will likely take years of incremental steps.

Waxman exemplifies the need to stay the course for years and idea you need to build into grass roots advocacy training

Rep. Waxman exemplifies the need to stay the course for years an idea associations need to build into grass roots advocacy training

From New York Times: U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman proved both a highly skilled legislator and an expert in oversight of government laws and programs during his 40 years in the House. He was an example of traits valuable to legislators (and grass roots advocates): tenacity and perseverance.

It was eight years from his first hearing on a mysterious disease affecting gay men until the signing in 1990 of legislation to combat AIDS. His fight for legislation to beef up the Clean Air Act, which he called “the most successful environmental law we have on the books,” took even longer, nearly a decade.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this from U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia: If lawmakers are to break out of the partisan cycle, they need to avoid being inundated by their constituents in an increasingly digital world where members of Congress find themselves under immediate pressure as events unfold.

“If new members allow their base to control their behavior up here they are going to be miserable,” said Mr. Kingston, who has seen the rising influence of Tea Party activists on Republican lawmakers. “While the voters might be yelling and screaming at you to do something, that’s not your job.”

Complete article at York Times


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