We held our very first Political Communications Workshop on April 2nd, and it was a big success! Read on for some of the key points that we covered.
Electeds (and Candidates) Respond to Inputs
If an elected official hears from a lot of their constituents about an issue, they're more likely to sit up and take notice. If a candidate hears from a lot of voters about an issue on the campaign trail, they’re more likely to make it part of their platform.
Meet Them in Person
The most effective way to advocate for your position with candidates and elected officials is to talk to them in person, whether that means addressing the City or County Commission, scheduling a face-to-face meeting, or getting their attention at a campaign event.
Get to know your elected officials and their staff by going to events and introducing yourself. Cultivating these relationships establishes you as someone worth listening to. Be respectful, even if you disagree with them on some issues.
Personal Stories Are Powerful
As humans we're wired for storytelling, and personal stories are key to making your point. Think about what connects you to the issue at hand. Will you or someone you care about be helped or harmed by a particular policy or piece of legislation? See the end of this post for some examples of powerful political storytelling.
Asking Good Questions
Good questions have just a few key components:
- Hook: Why should they care? Grab their attention with your powerful personal story.
- Context: What’s the broader importance? Do lots of other people share your story?
- Promise: “Will you promise to…?” Frame your issue around specifics, in a way that makes it hard to say no—the answer should be built into your question.
Here’s an example:
- Hook: My friend Sascha was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at age 32. She was able to get treatment thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which also guarantees that she can’t be denied coverage because of her pre-existing condition. Today, her cancer is in remission.
- Context: She’s just one of the millions of breast cancer survivors who could lose access to life-saving healthcare if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
- Promise: Will you promise to only support healthcare legislation that covers more people than are currently covered, with lower out-of-pocket expenses, and that maintains or strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions?
You can use this format any time that you’re talking to an elected official or a candidate: in one-on-one meetings, at a campaign event or town hall, or when addressing the City or County Commission.
Now take a first step by contacting your elected officials!
Ady Barkan used his battle with ALS to get the attention of Senator Jeff Flake. He's just one of the many courageous people who spoke truth to power and stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:
The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) brought the stories of people who had lost loved ones to AIDS to the White House, to protest the lack of a federal response to the epidemic:
Fannie Lou Hamer brought her story of registering voters in Jim Crow Mississippi to the Democratic National Convention in 1964 to protest her state's all-white primaries: