— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) February 14, 2017
This Saturday morning, I put on a nice shirt, shaved and typed up a short memo about the nation’s Public Lands policy. I headed over to a town hall meeting with the Congressman of my district, Joe Kennedy III.
I’ve been politically inactive for most of my life, but, this recent election has galvanized me on a few issues, such as legislation to roll back the protection of public lands. For Mrs. T., it is education.
Many people showed up at Kennedy’s town hall. I got there early and delivered copies of my memo to the Congressman’s aides. He votes consistently for the environment, and, so, I knew I was preaching to the choir.
When the meeting started, many people wanted to talk about impeaching the President. There was a lot of anger and frustration in the room, and Rep. Kennedy did a great job of being polite, direct and giving actionable advice.
He said the short-term key is this: Getting Republicans in Congress to change their votes–and, the critical path to that is getting their constituents to speak out. The Democrats don’t have the votes right now. He also said that things like op-ed pieces in mainstream newspapers don’t matter, since those don’t influence a Congressional Rep. unless constituents in that person’s district speak up.
It’s a reminder that we live in a republic, not a pure democracy. We elect local representatives, who then duke it out. As the Congressman clearly said: If someone from Texas were to call him and lobby for an open-carry law, he’d tell that person to contact the local Rep.
So, I asked this question: How do we influence legislation where Reps. in other districts hold the keys? His advice was to contact a friend or co-worker in the right state and try to influence that voter.
I’d add this: Donate to grass-roots movements. These organizations can help rally the populace in the right areas.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz recently learned this (video below and here). After proposing a bill to sell/transfer 3.3MM acres of Federal land, he really ignited people from both parties.
So, there was a massive and vocal turn out at a recent town hall. Groups mobilized resources and showed up in force. Protecting public land is a bi-partisan issue, as the fishing and hunting industries are quite significant in our western states. Jobs are at stake, and public land and open access are critical for them.
The good news is that Chaffetz has pulled his bill.
As for me, I’ll be donating money to support conservation. I’ve written on message boards to encourage people to lobby their congressional Reps. I’ve written to the CEO of Trout Unlimited with suggestions (and, he replied back!). I’ll keep up the pressure. We also have donated to the Boston Public school system and to the Catholic Schools Foundation.
There are many causes to support, but those two are ones on which we can have an impact and for which we have strong feelings. Protect natural resources, care for the children.
So, I’d encourage you to pick an issue, get up to speed, and join a side and participate in the dialogue.