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.
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!