There are many ideas in the Third Position community that register positively with the general public. However, seldom do you hear Third Positionists expressing a desire to share these ideas with politicians. This is understandable given the media’s demonization of nationalist and Third Position movements. But grassroots lobbying could be an option for low profile Third Positionists to not only give politicians new ideas, but also gain key insights into the political world.
Lobbying That Should Be Made Illegal
Before we consider lobbying for Third Position, we should distinguish between grassroots lobbying and moneyed lobbying.
Moneyed lobbyists are disliked by the general population and for good reason. They frequently wait until a politician is at his most needy (i.e. the election run), and get him to agree to support their policies in exchange for cash. Also, many lobbying organizations exist because they are supported by the wealthy. For example, organizations like The Free Speech Coalition are nearly entirely funded by the adult entertainment industry. This is why there is a strong lobby for allowing pornography as free speech, but a relatively small lobby for actual freedom of speech.
These types of practices have left us in a system which is plutocratic and subject to the whims of billionaires along with selfish money chasing. Needless to say, this type of moneyed lobbying should be outlawed.
Grassroots lobbying on the other hand is more about opening up conversations with politicians. Whether a politician decides to listen to you might depend on your tact, your expertise on the matter, how many people you represent, what your connection to the issue is, or if you are bringing up a matter that the politician was previously unaware of.
Grassroots lobbying can be worthwhile in various ways. One way is to actually inspire action. One experience I had was with a lobbying organization trying to get the Commencement Bay cleaned up. The bay had been designated a superfund site but cleanup efforts had been stalled for a decade. We petitioned the governor and shortly afterwards, cleanup efforts began again.
Another kind of success is the boost in morale that a meeting of this kind might have on your organization. When I was in the anti-war effort in the early 2000s, people from our organization met with a congresswoman several times to discuss averting the Iraq war. Obviously we weren’t successful, but just the fact that we were being recognized by a member of Congress helped to reinvigorate our members after our publicity efforts had been largely ignored by the media.
The Basics Of Grassroots Lobbying
Optics—At this point it may stigmatize a politician to have a relationship with a Third Position group, so identifying yourself in this way might not be the best idea. Consider creating an organization with an identity based around individual issues and then asking your Third Position affiliates to join this group.
Scheduling a meeting—Elected representatives have staffers who schedule their meetings. You can usually find their contact information online. It may be difficult to find a time when everyone in your group can come, but it’s better to have a meeting with some group members missing than to not have a meeting at all.
Have a specific “ask”—If you come into the meeting with a laundry list of requests, the politician might look through the list until he finds something he already agrees with, take a picture with you and consider his work finished. It’s important to have just one “ask”, and you should make it a good one. A good request might be co-sponsoring a piece of legislation, voting a certain way, putting out a public statement to garner more support, etc. The “ask” should be repeated once or twice during the meeting.
Be prepared—It’s important that you come to the meeting prepared. This not only includes knowledge of the issue you are talking about, but also of the politician’s historical stance on the issue and the specifics of any bills that are being discussed. You should also bring any materials that might help sway the politician to your side.
Start the meeting on a positive note—It’s a good idea to start the meeting by thanking the politician for something he’s done in the past that you like. This might actually be difficult to find sometimes, but it’s worth it to find something because it helps build a relationship.
Strength in numbers—This type of lobbying is best done in a group. This is especially true if members of the group represent different segments of the community. It shows that the issue is not just your concern, but represents the concerns of a diverse range of people. Coming to the meeting also allows you to designate tasks to different group members. Here are some of the roles that you’ll want to designate:
- Group Leader/Facilitator: this person will keep the meeting on track and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak.
- Storyteller: it’s important to have at least one person relating a story on how this issue affects them. This personalizes the issue in a way that statistics cannot. It can sometimes be difficult to find a story on more abstract issues, but be creative and try not to skip this step.
- Pitch Person: this is the person who will present the “ask” and make the arguments for it.
- Note Taker: sometimes the most important thing about this kind of meeting is what you learn, so it’s a good idea to write things down.
Persistence—Sometimes you won’t hear back from staffers when you try to make an appointment. Don’t take this too personally, just keep on trying. It’s often the case that a politician might be unavailable for a period of time but then his schedule clears up and he can see you.
Follow up—You are more likely to have an impact on politicians if you build relationships with them. One meeting might make a politician aware of an issue, but it may take multiple visits for him to get around to taking action. There should be someone designated to inquire about a follow up meeting.
To many, it seems the “age of vice and misery”, or great Kali Yuga has arrived. One often hears people talking about accelerationism in hopes that the destruction will carve out a new, stronger civilization. But I pose this question to you would-be-accelerationists: before you start weakening doors so that they might someday be kicked in, why not try knocking first?