We got this fantastic email today from an SBABG member. Please follow this member’s lead. You can still make a big difference in the health care debate and influence your congressional representative to vote against PelosiCare.
We’ve bolded a few items in the email that we think this member did very well – we particularly love how he used his association with SBABG to send a message. We encourage you to do the same.
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 2:23 PM
Subject: Healthcare – I made a difference today
Yesterday, I got so fed up with the congress, Pelosi and the health care nonsense that I finally boiled over, picked up the phone and called Harry Mitchell’s (Arizona Democrat in the House of Representatives) Washington D.C. office and asked to speak with the legislative director. Rep Mitchell has still not publicly tipped his hand on how he will vote on this bill and I wanted to voice my opinion and wanted to make sure my voice was heard.
When I called I identified myself as a local small business owner and a member of an organization of 8,000 small businesses allied against big government policies. I had a 25 minute conversation with the legislative director about why I oppose the proposed legislation and what it means for me, my family, my business and my employees. After finishing the conversation, I felt like I had truly made an effect on the legislative process and clearly explained why I am so opposed to it. If you’d like, you can pass on my experience to your readers so that they can also call their representative’s offices and tell them strongly how they feel. After speaking for nearly a half an hour and clearly explaining why I strongly oppose this legislation. I used one statement that I believe made a big difference.
“If Mr. Mitchell votes for this legislation, I will make it my personal mission to do everything in my power to make sure that he does not get re-elected. I will give my time, my money, my support and I will enlist other small business owners from our organization to campaign against him.”
This really seemed to resonate and I could tell he was taken aback. There was a long pause and then he said “wow… ok… I will make sure Representative Mitchell knows how you feel.” At that moment I realized that this legislative director will also be out of a job if Mr. Mitchell does not get re-elected, so I think it sunk in right then that I would be campaigning to put him personally out of a job.
He was cordial, bright and well-informed so the conversation was actually quite interesting and informative and non-confrontational. He did try and cite some incorrect figures about certain things and about the bill, but I was able to correct him and he seemed to defer on those points. I was expecting to get a fire-breathing Pelosi clone on the phone for some reason, but was pleasantly surprised and impressed with how receptive he was and with the fact that he told me he would take my thoughts and speak to Mr. Mitchell about them. I almost felt bad for – in effect – telling him I was about to do everything I could to get him fired.
I hope other members are calling their representatives, too, and speaking with their staff members about how we will oppose them if they continue to pursue policies that hurt our businesses and communities. I know it makes a difference.
That was a cool email to get today. We’ll get to see how Rep. Mitchell votes on the bill very soon (too soon!), but whether he votes yes or no the approach this member took is very effective and serves as a case-study in how to call a representative.
First off, this member spoke to the right person. The legislative director is key to the process. He or she monitors the legislative agenda and makes recommendations to your representative regarding issues. If we can influence the legislative director, we will likely influence the politician.
Remember that when we talk to the staff of a politician and you tell them that if the politicians votes a certain way that we’ll draw upon all resources we have and organize a campaign against that person, and we are credible, we can influence that person to influence the candidate. It’s often very effective to target the people around a primary target.
Second, this member was well informed, civil and talked for a long time about the whole issue in depth, registering opposition by explaining why he was opposed to the bill and who would be victimized by this bill (note – we have a future post forthcoming about “pleading on behalf of the victim,” which is a technique this member provided). By doing so, the member’s threat to oppose the politician was credible. Also, long conversations are good. The legislative director has only so many hours per day. If those hours are filled with conversations from people like us, carefully and rationally explaining our opposition to this bill, that is what will dominate the director’s day.
Third, the member identified himself as a small business owner. This is vital. Whereas left-leaning politicians love to bash big business and “the excesses of capitalism,” they are usually very sympathetic to small businesses, which they often identify with “the working man.”
Fourth, the members used his association/affiliation with outside groups to communicate the reality that there are many more people like him who the legislative director might not be hearing from, but who are none-the-less real and who feel similarly. Use your associations with various groups to your advantage and feel free to use your association with SBABG in your conversations.
Do not give up the fight. Now is the time (NOW is the time) to pick up the phone and call the legislative directors of your representatives! Please email us (through the contact form above) with your experience.