Making Friends in the Capitol
Whatever you're advocating for, you'll attract more allies with honey than vinegar...be the citizen lobbyist all Legislative Aides LOVE!
Sunday, March 20th 2022
Dear Freedom Friends,
If I’m going to ask you to feed the horses and chickens, you need to know where to find the Timothy and Layer Feed, right? Therefore, if I want you to become an active participant in the self-governance of the United States of America, then I’m on the hook for sharing hints, tips and ideas for how to do so. Right? Yes! So, here goes.
Choose your level of engagement. Primarily, your goal is sustainability. This will look very different, from person to person.
Maybe you’re a homeschooling Mom and you live in Washington DC? You may choose to incorporate your political engagement into your childrens’ educational activities, but you may not feel comfortable running for the school board.
Or, you’re a dairy farmer with grown kids who are training up to take over the family business? In which case, you might be a member of an existing lobbying group and - with grown kids taking on the bulk of the work - you may organize annual industry meetings or travel throughout the region raising awareness during an important legislative session.
When it comes to human society, there are as many ways to contribute as there are people in the world. Whatever you do, aim for three ingredients:
Relevant (to who you are & the life you lead)
Sustainable (avoid burn out)
Reasonable (manage expectations)
It’s much easier to be consistent when we’re working with friends on a shared passion project. Not only will our friends bring greater happiness and joy to our activities, they’ll be there to support us in the low moments, as well. While we can all experience frustration and often want a fast resolution to a problem, the beautiful truth is that social change is usually slow — and thankfully so. Sudden shifts are often violent and the resulting push back equally so, which is why the Founding Families of the United States of America intentionally created a system chock full of checks and balances that inhibit rash actions or dramatic flip-flopping policies.
Keep your friends close — and those with opposing views closer. You’ll never achieve a bipartisan solution to a problem if you spend all your time on Echo Chamber Island. Self-governance — in a diverse land, where we seek to respect and honor diversity — is like the best of friendships: a vibrant exchange of information and ideas. NOT a one way monologue/lecture.
In 2016, I watched with horror as a wave of xenophobia washed across my country. I’m not talking about Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign. I’m speaking of Liberal/Progressives who loudly & proudly mistook intolerance for virtue signaling, a la “if you voted for Trump, then I’m unfriending you.”
These people forgot that two wrongs do not make a right.
These people forgot that when you point your finger at another person, three fingers are pointing right back at you.
These people forgot that bigotry is the problem.
These people became the problem, making things worse, not better.
Some of my best friends voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. Some of my best friends voted for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Some of my best friends didn’t vote at all. I still count all of them as friends, because I choose tolerance and appreciation for diversity over intolerance, bigotry and xenophobia.
The greatest solutions are usually achieved when perceived differences are replaced by newfound, shared values. Think I’m naive or overly optimistic? I’m not, and I recommend this movie to everyone: The Best of Enemies.
Legislative Aids are People Too
When we are born, we are “entitled” to only one thing: death. Why do I say this? Two reasons:
To stop you from being weakened by the whining, bitching, moaning and complaining that consumes so much otherwise valuable human energy.
To stop you from making enemies of your greatest potential allies.
First off, let’s clarify something. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people,” is NOT a guarantee. Nor is it from our Constitution.
These words come from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, on November 19th, 1863, when he spoke of the lives lost in the American Civil War. Taken in context, Abraham Lincoln’s words, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” were merely a reminder of what Thomas Jefferson said nearly a century earlier:
Both of these men are saying the same thing. We are not entitled to liberty or a country operating under Democratic principles. Both can be lost, and to be retained, there is always a cost.
(Brief amazing piece of historical accuracy: Lincoln evidently borrowed the now-famous three-part phrase. In 1384, John Wycliffe wrote in the prologue to his translation of the Bible, “The Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People” (Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett, 1951 edition). Bartlett cites Theodore Parker using this phraseology in a sermon in Boston’s Music Hall on July 4, 1858, noting that Lincoln’s law partner William H. Herndon visited Boston and returned to Springfield, Ill., with some of Parker’s sermons and addresses. Herndon wrote that Lincoln marked with pencil the portion of the Music Hall address “Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, by all the people, for all the people.”)
How can entitlement cause you problems? Simple. Entitled people are obnoxious. They believe what they want is owed to them and this attitude often results in rude and derogatory behavior toward anyone and everyone who doesn’t act accordingly. Hence the “you didn’t vote as you ought to have, so screw you” attitudes I mentioned earlier. Guess who else gets sick and tired of being treated like crap?
Legislative Aides (or assistants). Who do you think signs up to be a legislative aide? Are they in it for the money? Hah! Do legislative aides enjoy special perks and privileges? Guffaw! Perhaps legislative aides are at fault for the state of the world? Oh, please! Grow up.
Here’s what Legislative Aides DO share in common with engaged American Citizens: they are stepping up, making self-governance a part of their daily life, and they are therefore our greatest potential ally.
Legislative Aide Relationships 101:
Be nice & respectful.
Cultivate a real relationship.
Ask questions more than you issue demands.
Learn their names and leave them smiling.
Do Not Kick the Cat!
And one more…
There Are No Simple Issues
You may be inclined to argue with me. Perhaps you perceive yourself as being 100% against racism. But, you’re comfortable with Affirmative Action Programs? Maybe you perceive yourself as being 100% pro-choice. But, you hesitate at the idea of a woman demanding an abortion at 36 weeks gestation? You say you’re completely committed to liberty. But, legislation preventing dog fighting feels right to you? The 2nd Amendment is a hill you’re prepared to die on. But, you wish North Korea didn’t have nuclear weapons?
This is not prevarication. This is reality. There is a Bell Curve to every issue.
We have no right to demand or expect another American citizen to share our particular viewpoint or opinion. That is, after all, the POINT of the Constitution & Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Diversity demands tolerance just as our bodies demand oxygen and trees demand carbon dioxide. Meaning, one gas is not better than the other, and both are necessary for life to thrive. On a purely biological level, without diversity we perish.
As such, the very best answers will always be found in the thick, complicated, gray middle of nature and society’s ever-present Bell Curve of options. And, the best way to achieve nuance (which is as close to perfection as humanity can hope to get) is through maximum allowance for individual choice.
However, this doesn’t mean we accept everything without question. After all, the PURPOSE of the Constitution of the United States of America is to set parameters and limits upon both the powers of government (over the people) and the legal actions of people (upon one another).
Given all of this, how better to arrive as a state of equilibrium, upon the ever shifting sands of life, than through intentional connection and ongoing communication? That is perhaps the best rationale and reason a person can have for remaining engaged in our nation’s ongoing efforts at self-governance, is it not? Which is exactly why the People’s Convoy — as the ripening fruit of our nation’s Constitution — is worthy of your attention and respect.