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Playing to Our Strengths Engaging the Political System on the Local Level Russell Harrison IEEE-USA.

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Presentation on theme: "Playing to Our Strengths Engaging the Political System on the Local Level Russell Harrison IEEE-USA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Playing to Our Strengths Engaging the Political System on the Local Level Russell Harrison IEEE-USA

2 What is Grassroots? Citizens talking directly with their elected officials about issues they care about. Citizens talking directly with their elected officials about issues they care about. Most direct way to influence a legislator. Most direct way to influence a legislator. Representative democracy in action. Representative democracy in action.

3 Why Do Grassroots? Influence political decisions Influence political decisions Engage your membership Engage your membership Inexpensive Inexpensive Improve your community Improve your community

4 The Impact of Grassroots Source: Congressional Management Foundation

5 We are a learned, professional society. We dont get involved in the dirty business of politics. or Our role is to present un- biased technical information to elected officials. We dont take positions.

6 Engineers need to be Political We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate. –Thomas Jefferson Most un-biased white papers and policy papers state positions. Most un-biased white papers and policy papers state positions. There is no such thing as unbiased policy. There is no such thing as unbiased policy. Elected officials are looking for arguments for and against. Elected officials are looking for arguments for and against.

7 The Life of a Politician

8 A Politicians World YOU

9 What do politicians want? A chance to impress you. A chance to impress you. A chance to help you A chance to help you Anecdotes. Anecdotes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Senator Chuck Schumer

10 How to Talk to a Federal Politician

11 Life of a Grassroots Message Sent by a voter. Sent by a voter. Read / listened to by a kid. Read / listened to by a kid. Sorted by issue into a folder. Sorted by issue into a folder. Response sent. Response sent. Read by a senior staffer when: Read by a senior staffer when: –A decision needs to be made on how to vote, or –The folder reaches a specific size. Impact: Impact: –Bring attention –Decide as vote

12 How to Talk to a Local Politician

13 Local Politics All personal All personal More time More time Much less staff, much less professional staff Much less staff, much less professional staff Focused on budget Focused on budget More risk and publicity adverse? More risk and publicity adverse?

14 School Boards School tend to be insular. School tend to be insular. Make sure you are talking to the right person. Make sure you are talking to the right person. Schools priorities: Schools priorities: –Protect the kids –Protect the system –Budget –Pass the tests

15 School Boards How to approach the Manassas, VA School Board 1. Talk to the Superintendent 2. Draft a one – three page description of what you want to do. 3. Know how to pay for it. 4. Have a spokesperson

16 Stories California - Education California - Education Colorado – Local activities Colorado – Local activities Wisconsin – Individual effort Wisconsin – Individual effort Indianapolis – Cheap entertainment Indianapolis – Cheap entertainment Seattle – Engaging politicians Seattle – Engaging politicians Virginia – Working with the media Virginia – Working with the media The Big Black-Out The Big Black-Out

17 Now What? CARE Program Help me talk to your members.

18 Now What? Sign up for Eye On Washington Sign up for Eye On Washington Discuss policy with your members. Discuss policy with your members. Communicate with elected leaders. Communicate with elected leaders. Work with IEEE-USA Tech Policy Committees Work with IEEE-USA Tech Policy Committees

19 Questions or Comments Wild Applause?

20 How helpful is it for messages from constituents to include the following? Source: Congressional Management Foundation

21 The Importance of the Ask What Makes an Effective Advocate? Advanced Consulting. April, 2003


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