Get Money Out Of Politics Now

Money in Politics

We should get money out of politics. Everyone says it is corrosive and corrupts.

But ask any candidate who lost his last campaign if he could have used more money and I think he’ll say yes.

The problem is not too much money. The problem is narrowly focused sources of money. Narrow money doesn’t work. In plain English, narrowly focused funding sources empower special interests. (more…)

Politics Is Boring, Trust Me On This

“I hate politics. I don’t understand Congress. And I have no idea about who to vote for in the election.” That’s what I used to say until the political gene turned on in my late 30’s.

For me, politics was boring and nobody cared. Congress was just a bunch of guys in Washington and they were going to do whatever they wanted to anyway. Besides it didn’t affect me. (more…)

Everyone is Fed Up With Politics

iLobby – Connect, debate and engage lobbyists, PR firms and politicians. Share issues easily and change laws with iLobby. Never be left out of democracy again. (more…)

Why Small Business Should Lobby

Source: istockphoto

Source: istockphoto

Persuasion works.

When persuading lawmakers to simplify regulations or adopt legislation you are fighting for, as a small business you face three choices. (more…)

Political Advocacy Can Help Your Business

Political advocacy is a government affairs function

Technology offers more ways than ever for Americans to interact with their government, yet the turnout for the 2014 midterm elections was the lowest in 72 years. Even though citizens can read bills online, email their legislators and follow politicians on Twitter, many opt out of the political process.

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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…)

How to Get Politically Involved Without Falling in the Pool

Anyone Can Change a Law

It is appalling and extremely unfortunate that apathy has become very common among the politicians who are absolutely indifferent towards many of the bitter truths of reality that need recognition and justice. They just don’t bother to take an action to make things work in the right manner that it should. The common masses are just not allowed, in most cases, to speak and place their opinion. It is high time that some new ways and processes are introduced that will engage more and more members to bring some change starting from grass roots politics.
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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.

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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].