Ever lobbied an elected official in person?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Doctor Q, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'm curious if any of you have ever gone to meet with your congressperson, senator, representative, or other elected official to plead/complain/lobby for your demand/request/cause by yourself, as opposed to the group efforts and email campaigns we're always being invited to join.

    I'm more interested in the process than whatever your particular issue was. Did you make an appointment or just drop in? Did you get to talk to the boss or only an underling? How long were you there? Did they really listen to you or just tolerate you until you left? Did it do any good compared with emailing or other impersonal means? Would you do it again, and what would you do differently?
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Only on the State level... a State Senator

    Yes, I was able to meet directly with her, actually at her request
    Did it do any good? Not really

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  3. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Nope, I can't say that I have.

    FWIW, my congressman is an ultra-right evangelical conservative who probably doesn't even give a **** what a Democrat like me has to say anyways.
  4. SMM macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2006
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    I have done so once, DoctorQ. Many years ago, I was totally involved with Whitewater Rafting. It was my life. NOAA provided a daily reading of river levels, which were immensely important to us. I got to know the person who made the recordings, and we were able to have him add information about dangerous river issues (new log jams, etc). One day he called me and said, NOAA was transferring him, and closing down the service. Congress was on vacation, so I called Senator Brock Adams office, and asked for an appointment.

    They asked me what it was about, and how much time I would require. I explained the reason, and told them the presentation would take ~5 minutes, and he might ask some questions, which might be twice that. They called me back later that day, and gave me three options for the following week.

    As it turns out, I had taken he and family members down the Skyhomish River (Class IV-V), a couple years earlier. We did these type of trips to help promote Wild and Scenic protection for key river-sheds. he remembered me instantly, which was a surprise. We spoke for nearly an hour. He shook my hand, and thanked me for being an 'involved citizen'. A few days later, I received an envelope with a copy of two letters in it. One was from the Senator to the head of NOAA. It started out, "It has come to my attention you are planning shutdown an extremely important river information center "In my home state of Washington". It ended, "I look forward to your immediate reply". At the time, he was head of the Senate's Appropriation Committee.

    The second letter was from the head of NOAA. He basically said it was just being looked at as part of the budget process, and they recognized it was too important to cut.
  5. mpw Guest

    Jun 18, 2004
    I have, on a number of issues to various elected officials.

    None of the issues were specifically personal to me, but I wanted to make sure they heard my views and to try and get an answer as to what their views were.

    In most cases I came away disappointed in their lack of commitment or enthusiasm about anything, just lots of nodding and saying they'll look into this or that, or even more annoyingly saying that they wouldn't, because although they agreed with me they knew it'd never get voted for so what was the point?!

    In each case the outcome was more me deciding I wouldn't be voting for them again rather than them doing anything.

    I am at least lucky that I can contact my representatives fairly easily as their home phone numbers/email/addresses are published.
  6. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The other day I talked to a man who helps people with grass root campaigns, and that's what got me interested in this topic.

    My wife and I have helped with email and fax campaigns with neighborhood and school issues, but nothing in person. We once phoned a city representative to protest an insane plan to build high-density apartments without parking places for half the residents, in an area already having parking problems. The plan proceeded, and we later learned that the rep was married to an apartment developer!

    Some people in the U.S. are surprised to learn that they can speak to their representatives in person, expecting it to be like asking to meet with Steve Jobs in person to complain about the lack of copy/paste on your iPhone. But the Constitution gives us that right ("petition the Government for a redress of grievances"). With Apple, you usually have to settle for Customer Service or a feedback form.
  7. Thanatoast macrumors 65816


    Dec 3, 2002
    I've met my City Coucilwoman. I was at a public hearing for Parks & Rec and she happened to be there (her district includes City Park) and I lobbied her for a streetcar on Colfax. She said she was going to Portland in a week to look into that very issue.

    I've also emailed her (from her website) on a few different issues, and even got some responses back from her directly. :)
  8. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Only with a cream pie… ;)

    Oh, I see you meant lobbied! :p :D

  9. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I gave lobbying a try today, talking to a congressperson, and it was a very interesting experience. I wonder... do they really care about one person's opinion if they take the trouble to make an appointment and show up in person?
  10. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
    The tough part of their job is navigating competing priorities. That's why, except in very fortunate circumstances, you are unlikely to get a commitment on anything in person.
  11. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    My total involvement has been writing letters or e-mails for or against issues.

    My boss had meetings with state representatives when they had a bill to take away cable franchises from cities and put them under the control of the state. Unfortunately, my boss was up against Time Warner, AT&T and other powerhouses, so he and his local cable colleagues from around the state lost. Given the kind of money and corporate influence that was involved, it was one of those issues that was really over before it began.

    Incidentally, not to be pedantic, but I recall reading an article by some journalist (in Time magazine, I think it was) about this very issue. He was told very clearly by people in government that if you got paid to do it, you are a lobbyist. If you were unpaid, you are an advocate.
  12. NotFound macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2006
    I went up to the Oklahoma state capitol to tell Sally Kern what a flipping idiot she is. A few hundred other Oklahomans went as well. Those who couldn't attend sent about 17,000 pieces of e-mail to her letting her know too. ;)
  13. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    I had occasion to "lobby" a city council member in Austintatious, some years back. A land-use-managment issue. They were going to delineate a zone in a broad-brush approach, which would have included lands which were not at issue as to needing protection--including ours, for which a sale was pending. I used the city's consultant's notes and maps. The result was a stricter definition and delineation for the protected area. Made a big difference for my grandfather's and mother's billfolds.

    It was by appointment. Unless you personally know some elected person, that's probably the best way to do it. That's why going to local political events and being neutral-friendly to folks can be important. It doesn't matter with which party they're affiliated. Meet them, get to know them as much as is reasonable or feasible, and try to learn what their own hot-buttons are...


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