What Makes an Effective Political Campaign?
A political campaign is call-for-change initiative from the relevant authority about a social issue your community cares about. A successful political campaign usually results in an action plan to lead to a change of legislature. To have an effective campaign you should consider the scope of the issue, your audience, and how to create community support.
Considering the scope of the issue helps you determine who your organization thinks would benefit from changing this legislature. It decides whether this will be done on a local, state, or federal level. This decision helps focus the message of your campaign to a realistic part of your community. This realism then helps you research who to discuss the issue with so your organization knows who has the actual power to make this change with the social issue.
Considering your audience includes the community members who will both support and oppose the legislature change you want to implement. Understanding support and opposition helps you frame your issue in a way that strengthens solidarity for the issue and prepare your resources to fight against those who oppose. It tells you how much capacity you need to develop when you reach out to create community support around the issue.
Considering how to create community support involves building sustainable relationships within and outside your organization. You need sustainable relationships within your organization to have the capacity to reach outside your organization. You have to use the same knowledge on what makes an effective organization to do so. When you have the capacity, you then reach out to your community to find out who supports you an educate the opposition. This community support can to come any of the petition, town hall, or protest events you set up.
Contacting Your Representatives
Outlined here is the process of how to contact your representatives. The very first step to contacting your representative is finding out who your representatives are for whatever level of government controls the bill you would like to influence. You need to make sure you’re calling the right type of representative for the bill you would like to address.
If the bill is affecting your local area like your city or county, you would contact your mayor or house of representative. If the bill is affecting your state, you would contact your house of representative of your governor. If it’s a federal bill, you would contact your senators. With the exception of the governor, all these roles are dependant on the district you’re registered to vote in.
You can find your house of representative here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
You can find out who represents you locally and federally here: https://callyourrep.co/
How to Call Your Representatives
Here are 4 reasons calling your representatives is effective:
Larger volumes of calls can halt the office leading your representative to make a statement on the issue.
Staffers often pass the message along to your representative in one form or the other.
Talking allows you to share a genuine, personal story about the individual impact of the policies they’re making.
Your odds become higher of getting direct contact with your local or state official through the phone.
(About 5 Calls)
The Calling Process
Give them your name, city, and zip code, and then say, “I don’t need a response.” EX: “My name is _______. I am a constituent of _______, zip code _ _ _ _ _ _. I don’t need a response.”
State the issue and your position. EX: “I am opposed to _______.” or “I am in favor of ________.”
Tips for Calling
Consider these following tips when calling:
Tip #1: Only call your district.
Your call will only be accounted for if you can confirm the area is represented by the official with an accurate city and zip code or are calling from the right area code.
Tip #2: Be kind.
The people answering the phone spend a lot of time answering phone calls. Your kindness will help the call get done faster.
Tip #3: Keep it brief.
Length won’t change change what they mark as your stance. Shorter calls ensure more calls received about the issue so more people are heard.
Tip #4: If anxious, thoroughly prepare.
Breaking down down the steps for what seems like an overwhelming task can help you get it done. A helpful resource with tips for social anxiety can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/hbp5uy2
How to Write to Your Representative
Consider these following tips when writing a letter:
Tip #1: Keep it brief.
Keep the letter to one page.
Try to discuss only one bill or issue.
Tip #2: Identify yourself.
Begin with an introduction paragraph about yourself or the organization you’re speaking on behalf of.
Tip #3: Get to the point.
Briefly state your concern at the end of your opening paragraph.
Include a bill number if talking about specific bill.
EX. “We urge you to support H.R. _______, which will _______.
Concisely explain your support or opposition of a bill in the next paragraph.
Well-thought, strong arguments are much more effective than a laundry list of reasons.
Whenever possible, use bullet points for your arguments.
Tip #4: Relate it to home.
Connect the significance of your position to their constituents.
Include specific facts of the bills impact on the their district (ex: “The bill has been predicted to cause many to lose their jobs.”).
Include a local anecdote illustrating your problem if possible.
Avoid generic general letter formats.
Tip #5: Allow for follow-up.
Include specific contact info.
Offer to act as a resource should the legislator or staff have questions or need additional information.
When appropriate, state in the letter if you will follow-up with a call.
Writing Tips for An Effective Email
Consider these following tips when writing an email:
Tip #1: Follow the tips for a letter.
Apply the tips above to any emails you write to your legislator.
All the components are important for making your email effective.
Tip #2: Avoid informal language.
Treat emails as seriously as letters.
Resist symbols often associated with email communication.
Don’t use impolite language or make “demands”.
Tip #3: Include your full address and zip code.
Include your full name and address with your zip code in the text of your email.
Emails are screened based on address information identifying the sender as a constituent.
Emails appearing to come from outside the district may be blocked by filtering programs.
Here is a written example of a format to write a letter to a representative: Sample Letter to A Representative. Additionally, here’s a: Document Form of the Sampleso it’s easier for you to cut and paste your personal information and the issue you are concerned about. Remember to make the information you fill in as personal as you can be some representatives may discount letters that are too formulaic.
Tools to Contact Your Representatives
Resistbot: Text “resist” to the number 50409 and a virtual robot will help you write a letter that will be faxed to your representative. Standard messaging rates may apply. Access Resistbot here: https://resist.bot/
5 Calls: 5 Calls teaches you about the importance of calling and provides you the representatives to call about popular issues of concern. The website is available as a download for your phone. Access 5 Calls here: https://5calls.org/
How to Organize a Protest
When protesting there are laws one must be mindful to keep you and your protesting companions safe. The American Civil Liberties Union has this webpage telling you: What Do You Do If Your Rights Are Violated at a Demonstration or a Protest. This is what you should know about your protesting rights in order for it to be an effective part of your civic engagement.
We've looked at many different ways to civically engage with an issues through dialogue, educational change, and structural change, but sometimes your voice still isn’t heard through these means so the supplement of protesting may be necessary. At that point it’s time to protest by planning a demonstration. The ACLU’s section on protest rights already present local laws to check out before a protest, but it’s important to discuss the actual strategy and planning with the people involved.
Here is a chart of the process of how a bill is made into a law on the federal level:
This chart can help you orient any future actions your group may take to protest a federal bill. In particularly, it marks places where there’s a chance for the bill to fail thus these moments are the opportune time for protesting. It’s important to remember who is voting on the bill to understand the urgency of stopping it earlier on and generally stopping the bill earlier on has been shown to be more effective.
An important point here is that at the federal level bills can fail to pass during:
A house of representative committee final reading and vote on final amendments and the proposed bill as a whole.
The house vote where a simple majority is required to pass a bill.
A senate committee final reading and vote on final amendments and the proposed bill as a whole.
The senate vote where a simple majority is required to pass a bill, but the frequent threat of a filibuster, has meant that super majority is often needed.
The president’s ten-day period to sign the bill into a law or veto.
Planning an Effective Protests
Outlined below are steps for making an effective protest.
Choose a message that resonates with your community. If your protest is part of campaign you’ll probably already have a message. If you’re responding to a crisis the message will probably have formed naturally.
Build your capacity. Reach out in your community to people you believe would show support. Follow the methods for civic engagement discussed earlier.
Assign roles. You’ll want people to lead the action in case there’s a route or certain actions you have collectively decided against. You’ll want people to energize the crowd with suggested chants. You’ll want marshals to observe any interactions with authority.
Show up. Personally message people to come to the demonstration. Reminders can make the difference in people showing up.
Give people a way to support you. Follow-up the event with an sign-up list to keep up with your organization and an invite to join. Keep the momentum of your movement going.
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