John Thibault Interview on the Ed Tyll Show

Radio interview on the Starcom network

 

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No Training For Me?

How political illiteracy can cripple your future.

 

 

 

What? No training for me?

There is training and certification for lobbyists, lots of it, but there’s no real training for individual citizens, so what does this mean?

It means that people who already know how to access the government, politicians and be influential are able to get more and better training on an ongoing basis. For the average person who wants to change a law or influence a public official or post comments to a regulatory agency, it’s very, very difficult.   (more…)

How to Change a Law (Menlo Park, CA: iLobby LLC, 2016)

 

How to Change a Law: The Intelligent Consumer’s 7-Step Guide – Improve Your Community, Influence Your Country, And Impact The World

 

This book is a do-it-yourself manual for voters, small business owners, lobbyists, and policy advocates who want to take political action, influence leaders and change laws.

This book is for you if you ever…

  • Wanted to change a law.
  • Thought a law was unfair or unjust.
  • Felt confused by bureaucracy.

Thibault provides a better understanding of policy change and political persuasion (also known as lobbying). Once you understand the power of lobbying, you will be able to improve your community, influence leaders, and impact the world.

How To Change A Law offers insight, actionable tools, and strategies that will lead you to becoming an active Citizen Legislator who realizes that their participation in public policy matters.

You’ll learn:

  • The 7-step process for successfully making a significant change and taking action in just 60 minutes.
  • Common mistakes to avoid.
  • Successfully getting past internal and external roadblocks.
  • Real life policy success stories where someone saw a problem and wanted to implement a solution to make a change.
  • Demystify politics.
  • How to vote on issues, not for candidates.
  • How to use the Political Persuasion Platform™ and the iLobby solution to change laws through crowd funded lobbying.

We are at a turning point in our politics; everyone needs to get involved, come together around issues, build coalitions, fund their initiatives, and intelligently pursue their agenda.

This book is your roadmap.

Autonomous Legislation

Can robots write laws?

 

Over the last 50 years we have relied more and more upon computers to improve our lives, accelerate our learning, and make life generally easier.

The technology, the computers, the microprocessors, all of this has come into physical objects that have vast amounts of data applied to them and we are looking to improve performance. We see this in air travel, now in autonomous vehicles, in cars. We see it with computer aided design, computer assisted learning, and many other areas. (more…)

How to Change a Law (Menlo Park: iLobby, 2016)

How to Change a Law
The Intelligent Consumer’s 7-Step Guide – Improve Your Community, Influence Your Country, And Impact The World

99-design-screen-shot-150x194This book is a do-it-yourself manual for voters, small business owners, lobbyists, and policy advocates who want to take political action, influence leaders and change laws.

This book is for you if you ever…

  • Wanted to change a law.
  • Thought a law was unfair or unjust.
  • Felt confused by bureaucracy.

 

Thibault provides a better understanding of policy change and political persuasion (also known as lobbying). Once you understand the power of lobbying, you will be able to improve your community, influence leaders, and impact the world.

How To Change A Law offers insight, actionable tools, and strategies that will lead you to becoming an active Citizen Legislator who realizes that their participation in public policy matters.

This book is your roadmap. You’ll learn:

  • The 7-step process for successfully making a significant change and taking action in just 60 minutes.
  • Common mistakes to avoid.
  • Successfully getting past internal and external roadblocks.
  • Real life policy success stories where someone saw a problem and wanted to implement a solution to make a change.
  • Demystify politics.
  • How to vote on issues, not for candidates.
  • How to use the Political Persuasion Platform™ and the iLobby solution to change laws through crowd funded lobbying.

We are at a turning point in our politics; everyone needs to get involved, come together around issues, build coalitions, fund their initiatives, and intelligently pursue their agenda.

eBook – How to Change a Law

Your Political Roadmap

Have you ever wondered why some special interests always get the laws that they want but you never do?

Now, in this free eBook we explain what you can do about it.

No more feeling frustrated or abandoned by your politicians. Turn your anger into awareness, and your awareness into action. (more…)

Patriot Games: The Game Plan for Getting Heard in the Political Arena (Part 1)

ManufacturingToday-iLobby-JulyAug2015

Successful manufacturers have a plan for just about any contingency. They’re thinking ahead about adopting new technology, cutting energy costs and handling health care issues. Increasingly though, one of their biggest challenges is dealing with the complex landscape of increasing regulations, politics and government. The decisions made by people in state capitals and in Washington, D.C., affect every aspect of how they do business.

Manufacturing Today article.

Manufacturing Today article.

Spending millions on lobbyists is one tactic to deal with this complexity — though not always a successful one, as demonstrated by the recent Comcast-Time Warner debacle. The alternative is for company leaders to engage in some tough evaluation and creative thinking about how to get through the political noise. They need new strategies to promote their priorities and get the politicians and policy decision-makers on their side.

Politics permeates everything

Increasingly, working the political angles is just part of doing business. Companies find politics comes into play early and often, whether they need a local permit for storm drainage or in directing major federal action on immigration reform.

According to the National Manufacturers Association, top issues for manufacturers include energy, health care, infrastructure, regulatory reform, taxes, trade and immigration. Naturally, issues that directly affect a company’s operations—its costs, profits, expansion plans and employment outlook—are of utmost concern to any company. Yet it can be difficult to communicate the urgency of these issues to decision-makers, let alone persuade them to share the same priorities.

Why is it so hard to work on political issues and actually accomplish anything? Everyone laments “partisan gridlock,” each party blaming the other for it. But that’s only part of the reason so little gets done. The political process has become so complicated that it is inscrutable even to government staffers. That helps keep lobbyists in business, according to author Lee Drutman, who notes that sometimes they seem to be the only ones who understand what’s been proposed and adopted. But it certainly doesn’t help ordinary citizens who are trying to run their companies and promote their interests.

Drutman outlines the scope of the problem in his book, “The Business of America Is Lobbying: How Corporation Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate” (Oxford University Press, 2015). He notes that with the proliferation of clashing interests, it’s harder to change the status quo. And when legislation does pass, it tends to be extremely complex, reflecting all the bargains and tradeoffs that had to be made in the process. As an example, think of the Affordable Care Act and its regulations, one version of which contained at least 10,000 pages, according to the Washington Post.

Writes Drutman, “The policy process is neither a vending machine nor an auction … Politics is far messier, and far more interesting than such simplistic models might suggest. And almost certainly, the increased competition for political outcomes has made it even more unpredictable.”

As an illustration, look at the efficiency of the 113th Congress. According to Govtrack.us, over the last two years, it has seen about 10,000 active bills, only about three percent of which were passed. It’s probably no coincidence that Gallup reports that Americans’ approval rating for Congress has ranged between 12 percent and 15 percent in the early part of this year.

The struggle for traction

Why do even some of the most well-funded issue campaigns fail to gain traction with lawmakers? There are several possible reasons.

  • A proposal might be important to only a select few — by definition, a “special interest” issue.
  • There are funding issues and concerns. Worthy bills and programs often die in the Appropriations Committee because there’s no revenue stream to cover them.
  • They lack a groundswell of popular support. In this case, a proposal might not generate the kind of enthusiasm that produces a lot of legislative co-sponsors. That means fewer voices argue for passage.
  • Legislators like to see benefits for their particular constituents. If they do not, they’re less inclined to go to bat for a given issue or pay it much attention.

Interestingly, in the proposed Comcast merger with Time Warner, there seemed to be no constituency urging approval aside from Comcast itself. According to The New York Times (April 24, 2015), the deal collapsed as it became clear that federal regulators were ready to block it. This occurred in spite of Comcast’s $5.9 million in campaign contributions during the 2014 elections and $25 million expenditures lavished on lobbyists.

Moving the political process forward

Tough scrutiny is called for as companies evaluate the realistic chances for getting action on their political priorities. Manufacturers need to realize that in a sense they’re competing for a limited resource in the form of a legislator’s time and attention. In addition, they are often up against other issues that are more inherently compelling. In California, for instance, two of the hottest political debates concern a Senate bill to require immunizing schoolchildren to prevent the spread of measles, and another one enabling “death with dignity.” Public safety, children’s health, religious freedom, individual suffering, right to life … issues like these naturally capture the attention of the general population as well as numerous interest groups.

To get involved with the political process in a meaningful way, start by following some basic guidelines:

  • Don’t have a long to-do list. Focus on just a couple of high-priority issues on which you want public officials to take action.
  • Look for likely sponsors and people who will support the company’s or industry’s issues. Scrutinize any bills that are similar as well as those that might compete with it.
  • Consider the funding that will be needed to promote specific legislation, as well as possible opportunities for favorable mentions in the media.
  • Remember that imagery is important. Frame the issue so that it taps into a universal value (e.g. security, safety). Can it be reframed so a negative idea (drones are scary) becomes a positive one (drones are useful and helpful)?
  • Understand that it’s easier to block an idea or proposal than it is to get one passed.

Another fact of life in politics is that lawmakers looking toward the next election want evidence that there is real benefit to their constituents if they support a certain issue or real harm to constituents if they oppose it. Think of the urgency that helped promote the health care reform law despite zero support from one side of the aisle. “Forty million Americans have no health insurance!”

The public relations angle

Manufacturers often fail to generate support for their issues with messages that resonate with the public. Also, they often fail to reach into their rank-and-file workforce for support that could effectively bolster their issues with lawmakers.

The debate over Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a good example of an issue that both sides have tried to frame using an issue of importance to lawmakers and their constituents: jobs. It was either job-creating legislation or job-killing legislation, depending on which side of the argument one favored.

Companies must work with their employees, supporters and advocates to create frameworks and fresh narratives to propel their priorities forward.

ManufacturingToday-iLobby-JulyAug2015

How To Find Your Political Voice And Sleep Like A Baby

Anyone Can Change A Law

It is easy to feel disconnected from government and politics in this day and age. With lobbyists, special interests, and powerful billionaires having their voices being heard, there is not much left for the average citizen looking to improve their general quality of life through intelligent and well-enacted legislation. If you want your voice to be heard, then don’t give up. Borrowing heavily from the incredible change seen in the tech industry, there is a 21st century solution to this problem with democracy. It goes by the name of iLobby.

Connect, Debate, Engage

Simply put, iLobby is the easiest way to pass a law. A community based around discussing, proposing, and finding support for laws, iLobby is an incredibly powerful tool and social media platform for bringing about change. For far too long, the voices of individuals have been lost in the yelling contest between the wealthy and special interests. While letters to congressmen continue to be ignored, nothing can stand against the incredible power of grass roots lobbying and social consensus. Old techniques are gone, and a new and improved method is now being utilized. So how can you become a part of the iLobby movement?

A 21st Century Solution To Having Your Voice Heard

Through the iLobby website, you can choose how much you want to participate in the conversation. For example, you can stay in the background and simply listen to the ideas, debates, and movements other people bring to the table. If you want to play a more active role, then you can fully harness the power of being one person with one vote. You and everyone else are real people who have important perspectives necessary for continuing a healthy democracy. Vote on what you feel is important, argue on the merits of what you believe, share and like things that you want to promote, and pledge yourself to a particular cause. In addition if you are successful, you might even get a chance to hire a lobbyist to represent your interests in government.

What Are You Waiting For?

Democracy is rule by consensus. The more you allow your political voice to strengthen, the more you will feel like your contribution has purpose. Remember that anyone has the power to change a law, including you. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Help shape your destiny.

by EP (Guest Blogger)

Engaging Members in the Lobbying Process

Sooner or later, many organizations will find their fortunes linked to government corridors and committee rooms, where it can still be a challenge to get their members’ voices heard. Apathy is pretty common, unfortunately. Just as the 2014 midterm turnout for Election Day was the lowest in 72 years, when associations make members’ political involvement as easy as clicking an online “take action” button, many still don’t bother. It’s time to introduce newer ways to engage members in grass-roots political activism.

It’s the rare American who can just pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a governmental decision-maker. Yet abstaining from the political process is like failing to make a will—eventually, there’s a gap between your own goals and how the government handles them. Lobbyists help bridge that gap. Major corporations understand this and have long worked the system to their advantage. In 2014, some 11,509 registered lobbyists argued the causes of organizations that shelled out about $2.41 billion for their services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. However, for many associations, influencing decision-makers is more difficult. Just getting them to focus on the organization’s issues is tough.

Lobbying is a fact of life.

It’s the rare American who can just pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a governmental decision-maker. Yet abstaining from the political process is like failing to make a will — eventually, there’s a gap between your own goals and how the government handles them.

Lobbyists help bridge the gap. Major corporations understand this and work the system to their advantage. In 2014, some 11,509 registered lobbyists argued the causes of organizations that shelled out about $2.41 billion for their services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For many associations, influencing decision-makers is more difficult. Just getting them to focus on the organization’s issues is tough.

Who needs lobbyists?

Several types of associations may find themselves most in need of improving outreach to public officials. These include:

  1. Smaller-scale associations that lack budgets for a governmental affairs department or even for a specialized position to handle those duties.
  2. Associations in highly regulated fields. These are groups that acutely feel the effects of government policies, and need help asserting their complex interests. Examples include: health care, banking, energy, telecommunications.
  3. Associations whose members come from businesses operating in the absence of settled law. Think Internet privacy, UAV drones, and startups that threaten the establishment (like Uber or AirBnB).

Which engagement options actually work?

Strategies for offering input to lawmakers range from the traditional to the cutting-edge. Personal letters, emails and phone calls will at least show up in a summary by the lawmaker’s staff. Heavy call volume gets attention. But lawmakers only care about voters and businesses in their own districts. That’s one reason they think they can ignore entreaties that originate with mass mailings or online petitions. Some executives report better results with letters on their personalized letterhead — with real signatures — targeted to specific lawmakers.

Web pages and online position statements may include “take action” buttons. Again, these generate boilerplate communications. And they might require your members to supply personal information they’d rather not share online or to slog through policy verbiage, both of which can discourage people from clicking through.

An innovative political persuasion platform, iLobby.co, also called cloud-based lobbying, applies crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to the political process. Here anyone can start an online dialogue on an issue on which they want elected officials to take action. Others join in, adding their support and/or arguments. Congressional districts are included on the site, which is important because while issues transcend boundaries, voters do not.

When participants in the platform reach a consensus, they contribute funding to hire a registered lobbyist who’s not only savvy about their issue, but able to document the political districts represented.

Lawmakers want feedback.

Online formats facilitate the exchange of information. A former California state senator, Joe Simitian, even encouraged voter feedback through this medium when he expressed his belief, “There oughta be a law.” Yet associations may need to overcome the belief that politics is not any of the association’s business. According to Bob Breault, who chairs the Arizona Optics Cluster, “They consider it ‘corrupt’ and all that politicians do is take money from them — most often for the wrong reasons.”

Yet Breault supports a cloud-based lobbying approach. “People will participate if someone makes it easy to pass along their opinions to the appropriate legislator. Of course, the discussions need to be civil and respectful and factual, and not emotional tirades.”

Online discussions also can turn up real-life stories on the effects of legislation. These are especially useful if an association needs people to tell their stories in a committee hearing.

What’s important to remember is that association members are constituents, too. Since many members already like the simplicity of using services like eBay and Amazon, online lobbying can be a natural extension to foster political relationship-building. They are an easy way to get members more involved in political issues, which are vital to their lives and careers.

————–

Originally published in Association News,  March, 2015

Congress Deserves D But my Congressman Gets an A

According to a recent poll [1] the job performance rating of Congress continues to reflect a very low 7% positive job approval score. Why is that?

Why do we accept such poor performance? Do we think if they did more, worked harder, longer, smarter, they’d get a better result?

US Flag

Do we want Congress to be more productive and pass more laws with more pages? Even now we learn that Dodd-Frank has 5,320 pages covering 400 new regulations [2]. ObamaCare was a 2,700-page bill and so far has 13,000 pages of new regulations [3]. Or do we want Congress to undo some of the old laws that we no longer like? Would we prefer Congress respond to issues that we think are important? Or did we elect our member to vote the way he or she wants?

If the polls are right and 90% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a poor job, how can that be? Are we accepting mediocrity as the price of freedom? If we vote for the “best candidate” in our district, why are they so effective campaigning as a candidate and so ineffective as a Member of Congress?

Have campaigning and fundraising proficiency trumped their legislative ability?

Ask yourself, why do we keep electing the same politicians if we get inferior results year after year?

Is it because Congress is not performance-based? 
We know it is not a meritocracy. The best do not rise to the top. The best are not rewarded for their great behavior. Seniority rules. So incumbency attracts power. Power attracts position and campaign donations. Then position and donations are used to attract more support, votes and tenure.

Maybe we’re using the wrong metrics when we think about measuring Congress’ job performance.

If the pollsters are right and Congress is as bad as they claim, then each of us is responsible for continuing to elect poor performers to the Congress. Or are they accomplished people who are incapable of getting anything done because they have to continually convince a majority of their 535 peers?

Whenever I have seen voters with their Congressman they are always gushing, the voters not the Congressmen. They refuse to ask tough questions. They throw politically convenient softballs, which the congressman always has the answer to or he makes sure he can use artful circumlocution to wend his way out of a messy question.

Constituents inevitably are very polite. They invite their friends to fundraisers. They are delighted to contribute to the campaign. They seem to be happy with a photo-op standing next to power. And they vote for the same politician over and over and over again.

But when the polls come out, voters polled turn and complain that Congress is not doing its job. Well which is it? They are the doing the job we elected them to do or they are incompetent, economically illiterate, politically mendacious boobs?

If we look at the Congress as a whole it may only be as strong as its weakest link. So, we need to identify the poor performers. They need to be voted out of office.

In corporate America on an annual basis some companies cull 5%-10% of their lowest performing workforce. But if we did that can we expect superior performance from the entire body of Congress? Not if we keep electing the same incumbents for 5, 10 or 15 terms?

I’m not advocating term limits here as some states currently have. This sometimes has the unintended consequence of taking good, seasoned politicians and pushing them out of office.

But if we had a way to systematically look at the Members of Congress, compare them one to the other on an independent basis and discover who falls into the bottom third, it should make it easy to figure out who should then not be reelected.

Political party strategists focus on this but even poor performing incumbents with name recognition can still draw sufficient contributions to drown out a challenger’s voice.

So instead of supporting our congressmen and blindly awarding him an A+ and then complain about the body of Congress by giving them a D-, we should examine closely who our congressman is and ask a different set of questions.

What is my representative’s position on the issues that matter to me and what legislation has he sponsored? What committees or subcommittees does he chair? How much did he receive from his Party committee, the DNC, the RNC etc? Who are his big donors? What percentage of his financial support came from outside his state?

It might surprise you to learn that your district votes may be heavily influenced by media buys sometimes financed by out of state interests.[4] Someone wants you to vote for the incumbent so you don’t rock the boat. Who benefits from his incumbency?

What success has your representative had? What has he done for you? What are his key issues and are his actions really improving your community, your business, your neighborhood and your congressional district?

So if your representative deserves an A, give it to him, but don’t tell the pollsters Congress deserves a D.

Unless you are politically engaged, you may never understand how Congress earns a D while your congressman always gets an A.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

So engage politically, and give your congressman an honest grade.

Take our free 7-day policy + challenge

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[1] Rasmussen, S. (2012, 13-Jul). Election 2012 – Congressional Performance. From Rasmussen Reports

[2] Harper, J. (2012, May 07). Inside the Beltway: Dodd-Frank=5,320 pages. Retrieved from Washington Times

[3] York, B. (2012, 29-March). Washington Examiner. From Obamacare’s 2,700 pages are too much for justices

[4] Megahy, F. (Writer), & Megahy, F. (Director). (2009). The Best Government Money Can Buy [Motion Picture].