Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forming an Advocacy Habit: Factions, Financiers and the Federalist Papers

One of our recent advocacy habit forming activities was to go back and look at the U.S. Constitution. Today, I'd like you to consider looking at some other important founding documents, specifically the Federalist Papers.

If you aren't sure what those are, have no fear! These were articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay and were published in New York newspapers in an effort to persuade New Yorkers to ratify the constitution. Think of the Federalist Papers as one of the earliest "public relations" campaign of our nation! I am 100% positive that if all this were happening today, these pieces would have been written as "The Federalist Blog."

Now, I'm not suggesting that the style of these papers should be adopted for modern PR efforts. Frankly, I think the language might be a bit dated for most Americans. That said, there is much that can be learned from these articles, both in terms of the structure of our government, but as well as how to pitch a complicated idea.

Since I promised a "10 minute" activity, I'm going to point you toward one specific paper, Madison's #10. For some reason it speaks to me in these trying times. Something about all the talk of "factions" which Madison describes as:

"a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community."

It sounds like a certain group of Wall Street financiers, doesn't it? It's OK, though, because Madison has the solution!

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