Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Here is the secret to political success. It is only three things and this is what it takes. And here they are.

  1. Clarify your issue
  2. Build a coalition and
  3. Appeal to a higher authority

That’s it.

You can pick any issue at the local level, school board level, county, state or federal level. And if you do these three things and do them well, you will have success. But what do most people do when they want to see political change?

They write a manifesto. They take to the streets, they shoot innocent people, they call for impeaching the president, they bash the other political party, and they blame everybody else. And what happens? Nothing.

So look at the three elements I put up above. Did they clarify their issue? Not really. Did they build a coalition? No. And are they appealing to a higher authority? No.

So they’re not doing the three key essential things that the top government relations firms do for clients. Let me ask you a question.

[ Read: Get Money Out of Politics Now ]

In spite of your bias about lobbyists (and I am not a lobbyist), I have observed that there are people who organize in a very specific way who achieve higher levels of policy success than most others.

Lobbyists do not write manifestos. They do not shoot people in the street. They do not protest. They do not hold up signs. They do not sign petitions. They do not demonstrate and destroy property. Why not? Because these things just don’t work.

In a civil society there is no place for anarchy. We keep expecting the lawmakers to write a law, change the law, fix a law or do something to control the behavior of individuals in society who are doing bad things. But believe it or not, the politicians have a lot on their plate and they have a lot of competing interests among themselves and even among their own constituents, so it’s hard to get them to pay attention.

Maybe they need some help from the community instead of just a few think tanks and special interests and large companies. Maybe they need you to look at certain problems and come up with a framework to help them.

What was my first point? Clarify your issue. If you helped them clarify an issue and brought it to them, that would be a good first step.

But if you help them clarify an issue in an intelligent framework with lots of facts and brought it to them and you had built a coalition of supporters and people who believe in what you’re doing that numbered among the hundreds or thousands, you would definitely have an audience with that particular lawmaker.

So you see doing those two things, clarifying your issue and building a coalition are essential parts of the equation.

[ Read: Six Phases to Solving Wicked Problems ]

The final part and this is the tricky part, is that you think you can only appeal to your specific representative, but if you build a broad enough coalition where you have other people from other districts, states, cities, and towns who also support you, well guess what? They have their own lawmakers and representatives as well.

So if you all came together in a strategic coalition and other people also appealed to their representatives, and this is the interesting part, when you appeal to a higher authority, if they all came together and they presented their information to the members of the specific committee that would address your issue, then you would have a significant coalition of individuals from the correct districts aligned.

Going to the right representatives on the right issues isn’t as hard as you think.

I had dinner with an astronaut and his wife and when she moved into a new town in Texas they did not have a recycling program, which she couldn’t believe. So she got together with her neighbors and friends of neighbors until finally she advocated for having a recycling program. She drafted what she wanted to get done. She got a large number of people to agree with it and come together around the issue and then they appealed to the company to make the change and begin the program.

I asked her how many people it took to make it happen she said it was about 100 and at that point it happened very quickly.

What did she not do? She did not sit around and complain. She did not sit around and do nothing. She did not go out and demonstrate. She did not protest. She did not smash other garbage cans. She did not picket the office of the company. She did not post nasty comments on Twitter. She did not blame the government.

What she did was a smart intelligent way to use the three key elements to advocate to get something done and it worked.

In our schools today we are teaching our children to self-advocate and achieve a level of self-efficacy that means advocate for themselves and get things done that they believe in and then have the experience of feeling fulfilled and successful that they were able to accomplish what they set out to do.

It’s time we take some lessons from our children and do the same thing in an intelligent way.

So, you have to start somewhere.

You have to start with an idea or a problem in your community and you have to figure out what you think the solution might be and come together with other people and get their feedback and opinions and try to resolve the problem.

Don’t wait till the lawmaker is looking at 1,000 thousand-page bill in order to make changes. Make the changes at the framework level and do those three things.

  • Clarify your issue
  • Build a coalition and
  • Appeal to a higher authority

Good luck.

Founder, CEO iLobby & Author How to Change a Law, SWAY and The Political Game. Change policy and see around corners.

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