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There's lots of folks who are making preparations to go to the National Mall on October 2, 2010.  http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/

If you've never participated in such an event, then you really should consider this opportunity.  You'll get to carry signs, meet lots of like-minded believers, have a blast, and go home with some pleasant memories.

I've marched around the Capitol myself.

In the end, though, I've concluded that, though it's a great feel-good event, it doesn't DO much good towards influencing and turning government on the issues that you bring.

Why?

Because the very people that you want to influence - Congress, and the Executive Branch - will tune it all out.

Congress Critters won't even be around, because it's a Saturday.  They won't hear it or see it in person, aside from a few that will actually attend.

Nope!  99% of 'em will be out of town. When they come back, if they hear about the event, their reaction will be, "Someone had a rally on the Mall?  Oh, really?  Well, who am I meeting for lunch today?"

The reality is that someone is ALWAYS marching around the Capitol, or having a rally on the Mall.  It's always on the weekend, and Congress never even sees it, and Congress doesn't really care.

That's my experience, at least.  The rally is as significant to Congress as is a fish fart in the middle of the gawddam Pacific.

That's exactly how I felt after marching around the Capitol.

I decided, why march AROUND the Capitol, and merely participate in a feel-good event, when I can do something with actual potential to be effective?

And what could be much more effective?

That would be going into the Congressional office buildings on a weekday, when all the Congress Critters and their staff are there, with or without an appointment, and going straight to their offices to talk.

While you're there, why not go into the office buildings, and be a citizen lobbyist?

.     .

The problems and issues which matter to you are NOT created or solved on the Mall.  They are created and solved in the congressional office buildings.

Do you see paid lobbyists holding rallies on the Mall to get what they want?  Hell no!  They meet with the Congress Critters IN PRIVATE to bend policy and legislation the way they want, and they get results, too.

.     .

I don't think people realize that they can call their legislators' DC offices in advance, ask for an appointment, and get one.

I don't think people realize that even if you don't have an appointment, you can walk into the congressional office buildings on weekdays, go through the security scan, go straight to your congress critter's office, whether in Washington or locally, and say,

I want to talk with Senator Heavybotham's legislative assistant for health care/foreign policy/catfood rationing, etc., and if that specific person isn't available today, someone else will surely do.

I've done it.  It's easy to get an appointment with Rep. Sternwheeler hisself, and I'm not an important person.

Here's a link to a Capitol Hill map.  It's easy to find the office buildings.  Locate the Capitol (the big thing with the dome, tee hee!) and just to the northeast corner are the Dirksen, Hart, and Russell Senate Office Buildings.  Look just south of the Capitol, and you see the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings.  (The Rayburn Building has a very nice public cafeteria, by the way, where you can get a decent meal for a reasonable price ; - )  In these buildings are your elected politicans' offices.

I took a week off, went to Washington, and acted as a citizen lobbyist. I got appointments in advance with BOTH of my senators' staff (chief policy advisor, actually!) While I was in town, I contacted a representative's office from a neighboring district, spoke with the chief of staff, and got an appointment with the chief of staff. I also contacted a senator's staff, of which state I don't even reside, and got an appointment with the legislative aide for military affairs, just because that senator and I happen to be graduates of the same school! I was sorta stunned at how easy it is to actually get in doors and talk with people.

In fact, I wrote a diary about this, with a bunch of tips, awhile back.

When you get to sit down with the member of congress or aide, be as prepared as a paid professional lobbyist would be.

Have your most important issues neatly condensed to where you can literally fit them onto an index card which you can hand over (keeping a copy for yourself).

With this kind of laser-pointer focus, it will be quite obvious when you get vague, off-topic, red herring replies, and you will easily be able to to bring focus back to your point/issue/question.  

Take a look at the diary for more ideas which I've found useful.

By all means, go the the 10 - 2 - 2010 event, especially if you have never attended something like this. Also, try to arrange to be in town on the preceding and following weekedays, and get yourself into those office buildings, because THAT is where the tire meets the road.

If you can't go, or if you don't have time to go into the office buildings, you have excellent opportunities to do the very same things at your congress critter's local office.  Your issues are important enough to take them to the National Mall, so they're also important enough to take directly to your congress critter's DC or local doorstep!

Originally posted to Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:23 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

    by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:24:00 PM PDT

  •  Marches like this are not slolely meant (4+ / 0-)

    for congressional attention.  Enough of us show up, the media covers, and a NARRATIVE is set for the whole country.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:33:30 PM PDT

    •  You hope it works that way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error

      Why not take the narrative straight to your congress critter's doorstep, too?  Like paid professional lobbyists?  THEY seem to get what THEY want, ya know.

      A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

      by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:36:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish tens of thousands could stay, and then (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hound Dog

        circle the congress so they can leave until to do the people's business, pass the small business bill, etc.

        Ok, just a dream.

        •  People could take control of congress (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error

          simply by outnumbering all the paid lobbyists in the buildings, I think!  The people of this country have immense power, and it's a shame that they allow the corporate interests to pull the strings.

          A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

          by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:46:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  With the work and dedication of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ybruti, Hound Dog

            ordinary citizens,

            One Nation Working Together can be the organizing tool we need, unattached to party or politician.

            It is my new rallying organization.  I have such a great feeling and vision of what this can be.

            •  I hope like hell it (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              does some good.  People should go to it and participate.  I don't count on much help for it from the MSM.  I hope people will get more bang for their bucks by going to Senator Porqubarule's office and onsisting on answers and action.

              Those paid professional corporate lobbyists know what they're doing, ya think?  and i think ordinary citizens could accomplish much more by modeling their own actions after them.

              A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

              by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:57:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I think your idea is a good one. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hound Dog, breathe67, angelajean

       I think your dissing the rally is not cool. Yes it would be great if our march got the attention of the politicians. Yes it would be great if the media noticed it and talked about it. But the success of the march is not dependent on those things.
       Because it will be great to gather with like-minded folks and discuss our lives and plans and political hopes. It will be great to reconnect our party with the Unions. It will be great if the march can help raise the enthusiasm level of the Democratic party. And, even as you say yourself, it will be a good day with a lot of memories. Why diss it?

    Solidarity Now. Join the Union...Washington D.C. 10-02-10. {Dems: Tax cuts for the middle class. Repubs: Tax cuts for millionaires.}

    by reddbierd on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:55:37 PM PDT

    •  I'm reccing your comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miniaussiefan

      even though you are flat out el wrongo that I'm dissing the rally.

      Kindly go back and read my diary.  I'm dissing congress' infinite capacity to tune out on rallies.

      A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

      by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 01:58:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I recced the diary and gave you a tip (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hound Dog

        and I appreciate your idea.
           I find it funny though that if I have a disagreement with you about the tone you set it must mean I didn't read the diary (enough times or deeply enough or from the correct angle maybe). You know if I get the impression from something you wrote that you feel a bit of negativity toward that something...one possibility is I didn't read the diary correctly. But there are other possibilities as well. Again, your idea is good. The march will be good as well.

        Solidarity Now. Join the Union...Washington D.C. 10-02-10. {Dems: Tax cuts for the middle class. Repubs: Tax cuts for millionaires.}

        by reddbierd on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 02:06:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can see how (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reddbierd

          a cursory reading of the diary might sorta kinda sound like I was dissing the rally, and how, on a second reading, it might make more sense!

          Thank you.

          A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

          by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 02:11:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes it is just nice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Hound Dog, War on Error

    to connect with like minded people.  It gives you the incentive to do more.  For example, I always voted for Democrats but never really did anything beyond that until the run-up to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. All of a sudden I felt completely alienated from the rest of America because of the media narrative and how they cheerleaded us into war.  Going to an anti-war rally on the mall made me feel connected once again.  I would never have knocked on doors or driven people to the polls before that.  Hopefully others will feel the same way if they participate in their first march.  

    •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

      It IS nice to connect with like minded folks.  No substitute, for that.

      Have you ever tried going to your elected officials' offices?  How did it turn out?

      A few give much, a few give all, and most Americans give....NOTHING! ~~~ Support our troops - Bring them home

      by Hound Dog on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 05:50:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went to Monday rally once... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hound Dog

    but just like you said, they all stayed home, even on a regular workday.. :(

    The Million Man March.

    Poor government comes about when good citizens sit on their hands instead of standing on their feet.' -- Robert Baker

    by jaysunb on Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 04:55:48 PM PDT

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