Monday, October 17, 2011

Advocacy Tips: Sometimes You Have to Start Small

When Senate Democrats tried to get a passing vote on Obama’s American Jobs Act last week, it was quickly shot down. But that doesn’t mean they have to give up on the legislation entirely. This week the Senate plans to introduce a portion of the Jobs Act as its own separate bill for consideration—the piece that would provide $35 billion to prevent teacher and first-responder layoffs. So why are they introducing part of a bill that was already rejected? The idea here is that this component of the Jobs Act has more bipartisan support than the bill as a whole, so separating it out might yield a passing vote.

You should consider this strategy for your advocacy efforts. If your Members of Congress are giving you a hard time about giving you everything you want (don’t you hate that?), see if you can narrow down your ask to something they are more likely to agree to. Instead of demanding $10 billion in funding for your programs, ask them to speak up in support of some of the provisions that fit their legislative profile a little better.This doesn’t mean you should give up on the rest of your goals, but sometimes you have to start small to get things accomplished. If you are willing to compromise with your legislators in this way, it shows them that you are reasonable and that it would be worth their time to work with you in the future. From there, you can work your way up to the bigger asks. 

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