Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Did You Vote Today?

Today is Election Day!

If some of you responded with “… What? Seriously?” don’t feel too bad. This is an off-year election mostly comprised of mayoral elections and ballot measures (there are only 4 states holding state-level legislative elections and only 2 states holding gubernatorial elections). The most exciting coverage of the day is related to some of the more contentious ballot measures, such as a vote in Ohio on a measure that restricts the collective bargaining rights of unions and whether the state of Mississippi will essentially outlaw abortions entirely by passing a measure to define a fertilized egg as a person.

While only a select few issues are getting lots of national attention, there are plenty more being voted on today that will have an impact at the state and local levels. This reminded me that it’s extremely important to advocate for local issues as well as national. A lot of us tend to focus on the “big picture” and forget that sometimes the best strategy is to build your way up from the bottom. Fighting for issues that are important to you at the local level not only directly affects the people in your community, but victories can also give you sway at the national level. If you can go to your Members of Congress and say “Look, people supported this and passed this legislation in your community, and see how much good it did,” your persuasive arguments become less theory-based and more evidence-based. And if there’s anything legislators love, it’s actual evidence of something working. It makes their job a lot easier when fighting for legislation if they can offer up specific examples of how that policy or program is benefiting their constituents.

If your efforts are entirely focused on national policies, consider adding this strategy into your advocacy arsenal. It will probably add a lot to your workload (Who doesn't love more work?), but it can be well worth it. 

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