At least dozens of times over the past several years, I have had people tell me, often very flustered, “oh no, I’m not a lobbyist. I just (fill in the blank–educate, advocate, inform).” Sometimes these people are hedging a bit because they aren’t supposed to be lobbying (like they haven’t filled out a 501(h) election form, or they work for a public entity and are restricted in what they can do), but, more often, they think that they will somehow be looked down upon if they admit that they do, in fact, engage in what has been construed to be an ugly activity–lobbying. I think that those of us who seek to use our relationships, information, and considerable skill to influence elected officials to make sound public policy decisions that will help the vulnerable populations with which we work need to reclaim the word, and the idea behind it–“I am a lobbyist.” (see, it’s not so hard to say!)
Here are some of the resources that I use in class to help my students get over that initial hurdle and see themselves as lobbyists–a lecture that outlines legislative advocacy and a handout that we use for roleplaying (a necessary evil for social work advocates, who tend to be less comfortable than clinical social workers with this ‘touchy feely’ stuff!). Practice, and then make your first phone call (or write your first letter, or organize your first rally), and, then…say that you’re a lobbyist!
What is Classroom to Capitol?A resource for social workers, instructors, and students in the areas of community organizing, policy analysis and advocacy, and organizational development--a tool in your quest for social justice
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