Engaging Members in the Lobbying Process

Association News-iLobby-March2015

 

The ‘Take Action’ Button Is Broken: How to Engage Members in the Political Process

Written by

John Thibault, Founder, iLobby

Exclusively for

Association News

 

January 2015

“Ten people who speak make more noise than 10,000 who are silent,” Napoleon said. Though Waterloo put a crimp in his own political fortunes, the French leader had a point. And for associations whose fortunes are linked to Washington corridors and committee rooms, it’s still a challenge to get their members’ voices heard.

Election Day apathy is familiar: The 2014 midterm election turnout was the lowest in 72 years. But what happens when you make members’ political involvement as easy as clicking an online “take action” button? Many still don’t bother. It’s time to find new ways to engage members in grass-roots political activism.

            Lobbying is a fact of life. For some, “K Street” is an epithet. But it’s the rare American who can just pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a governmental decision-maker. Yet abstaining from the political process is like failing to make a will — eventually, there’s a gap between your own goals and how the government handles them.

Lobbyists help bridge the gap. Major corporations understand this and work the system to their advantage. In 2014, some 11,509 registered lobbyists argued the causes of organizations that shelled out about $2.41 billion for their services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For many associations, influencing decision-makers is more difficult. Just getting them to focus on the organization’s issues is tough.

            Who needs lobbyists? Several types of associations may find themselves most in need of improving outreach to public officials. These include:

  1. Smaller-scale associations that lack budgets for a governmental affairs department or even for a specialized position to handle those duties.
  2. Associations in highly regulated fields. These are groups that acutely feel the effects of government policies, and need help asserting their complex interests. Examples include: health care, banking, energy, telecommunications.
  3. Associations whose members come from businesses operating in the absence of settled law. Think Internet privacy, UAV drones, and startups that threaten the establishment (like Uber or AirBnB).

            Engagement options. Strategies for offering input to lawmakers range from the traditional to the cutting-edge. Personal letters, emails and phone calls will at least show up in a summary by the lawmaker’s staff. Heavy call volume gets attention. But lawmakers only care about voters and businesses in their own districts. That’s one reason they think they can ignore entreaties that originate with mass mailings or online petitions. Some executives report better results with letters on their personalized letterhead — with real signatures — targeted to specific lawmakers.

Web pages and online position statements may include “take action” buttons. Again, these generate boilerplate communications. And they might require your members to supply personal information they’d rather not share online or to slog through policy verbiage, both of which can discourage people from clicking through.

An innovative political persuasion platform, iLobby.co, also called cloud-based lobbying, applies crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to the political process. Here anyone can start an online dialogue on an issue on which they want elected officials to take action. Others join in, adding their support and/or arguments. Congressional districts are included on the site, which is important because while issues transcend boundaries, voters do not.

When participants in the platform reach a consensus, they contribute funding to hire a registered lobbyist who’s not only savvy about their issue, but able to document the political districts represented.

            Lawmakers want feedback. Online formats facilitate the exchange of information. A former California state senator, Joe Simitian, even encouraged voter feedback through this medium when he expressed his belief, “There oughta be a law.” Yet associations may need to overcome the belief that politics is not any of the association’s business. According to Bob Breault, who chairs the Arizona Optics Cluster, “They consider it ‘corrupt’ and all that politicians do is take money from them — most often for the wrong reasons.”

Yet Breault supports a cloud-based lobbying approach. “People will participate if someone makes it easy to pass along their opinions to the appropriate legislator. Of course, the discussions need to be civil and respectful and factual, and not emotional tirades.”

Online discussions also can turn up real-life stories on the effects of legislation. These are especially useful if an association needs people to tell their stories in a committee hearing.

What’s important to remember is that association members are constituents, too. Since many members already like the simplicity of using services like eBay and Amazon, online lobbying can be a natural extension to foster political relationship-building. They are an easy way to get members more involved in political issues, which are vital to their lives and careers.

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About the Author:

John Thibault is the founder of iLobby, a cloud-based lobbying platform. He previously served at MCA in government affairs and as marketing VP at eBay and Financial Engines. He can be reached at john@ilobby.co or 650 490-0987. Twitter @ajohnthibault or on the Web at http://www.ilobby.co.

 

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The Political Game Plan

ManufacturingToday-iLobby-SeptOct2015

 

 

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In a Democracy…

iLobby DemocracyIn a democracy, people are encouraged to express their opinions on certain issues. While we may not always see the change we want in our community, we have the power to raise our voice on certain issues.

State your side.

Share your concerns.

Find like-minded representatives–regardless of political party–and supporters who share your political point of view. 

Start a debate. 

Engage with other concerned parties.

You don’t have to do it alone. Create, fix or repeal laws.  Send your message across and choose iLobby today.

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Patriot Games: The Game Plan for Getting Heard in the Political Arena (Part 1)

ManufacturingToday-iLobby-JulyAug2015

Successful manufacturers have a plan for just about any contingency. They’re thinking ahead about adopting new technology, cutting energy costs and handling health care issues. Increasingly though, one of their biggest challenges is dealing with the complex landscape of increasing regulations, politics and government. The decisions made by people in state capitals and in Washington, D.C., affect every aspect of how they do business.

Manufacturing Today article.

Manufacturing Today article.

Spending millions on lobbyists is one tactic to deal with this complexity — though not always a successful one, as demonstrated by the recent Comcast-Time Warner debacle. The alternative is for company leaders to engage in some tough evaluation and creative thinking about how to get through the political noise. They need new strategies to promote their priorities and get the politicians and policy decision-makers on their side.

Politics permeates everything

Increasingly, working the political angles is just part of doing business. Companies find politics comes into play early and often, whether they need a local permit for storm drainage or in directing major federal action on immigration reform.

According to the National Manufacturers Association, top issues for manufacturers include energy, health care, infrastructure, regulatory reform, taxes, trade and immigration. Naturally, issues that directly affect a company’s operations—its costs, profits, expansion plans and employment outlook—are of utmost concern to any company. Yet it can be difficult to communicate the urgency of these issues to decision-makers, let alone persuade them to share the same priorities.

Why is it so hard to work on political issues and actually accomplish anything? Everyone laments “partisan gridlock,” each party blaming the other for it. But that’s only part of the reason so little gets done. The political process has become so complicated that it is inscrutable even to government staffers. That helps keep lobbyists in business, according to author Lee Drutman, who notes that sometimes they seem to be the only ones who understand what’s been proposed and adopted. But it certainly doesn’t help ordinary citizens who are trying to run their companies and promote their interests.

Drutman outlines the scope of the problem in his book, “The Business of America Is Lobbying: How Corporation Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate” (Oxford University Press, 2015). He notes that with the proliferation of clashing interests, it’s harder to change the status quo. And when legislation does pass, it tends to be extremely complex, reflecting all the bargains and tradeoffs that had to be made in the process. As an example, think of the Affordable Care Act and its regulations, one version of which contained at least 10,000 pages, according to the Washington Post.

Writes Drutman, “The policy process is neither a vending machine nor an auction … Politics is far messier, and far more interesting than such simplistic models might suggest. And almost certainly, the increased competition for political outcomes has made it even more unpredictable.”

As an illustration, look at the efficiency of the 113th Congress. According to Govtrack.us, over the last two years, it has seen about 10,000 active bills, only about three percent of which were passed. It’s probably no coincidence that Gallup reports that Americans’ approval rating for Congress has ranged between 12 percent and 15 percent in the early part of this year.

The struggle for traction

Why do even some of the most well-funded issue campaigns fail to gain traction with lawmakers? There are several possible reasons.

  • A proposal might be important to only a select few — by definition, a “special interest” issue.
  • There are funding issues and concerns. Worthy bills and programs often die in the Appropriations Committee because there’s no revenue stream to cover them.
  • They lack a groundswell of popular support. In this case, a proposal might not generate the kind of enthusiasm that produces a lot of legislative co-sponsors. That means fewer voices argue for passage.
  • Legislators like to see benefits for their particular constituents. If they do not, they’re less inclined to go to bat for a given issue or pay it much attention.

Interestingly, in the proposed Comcast merger with Time Warner, there seemed to be no constituency urging approval aside from Comcast itself. According to The New York Times (April 24, 2015), the deal collapsed as it became clear that federal regulators were ready to block it. This occurred in spite of Comcast’s $5.9 million in campaign contributions during the 2014 elections and $25 million expenditures lavished on lobbyists.

Moving the political process forward

Tough scrutiny is called for as companies evaluate the realistic chances for getting action on their political priorities. Manufacturers need to realize that in a sense they’re competing for a limited resource in the form of a legislator’s time and attention. In addition, they are often up against other issues that are more inherently compelling. In California, for instance, two of the hottest political debates concern a Senate bill to require immunizing schoolchildren to prevent the spread of measles, and another one enabling “death with dignity.” Public safety, children’s health, religious freedom, individual suffering, right to life … issues like these naturally capture the attention of the general population as well as numerous interest groups.

To get involved with the political process in a meaningful way, start by following some basic guidelines:

  • Don’t have a long to-do list. Focus on just a couple of high-priority issues on which you want public officials to take action.
  • Look for likely sponsors and people who will support the company’s or industry’s issues. Scrutinize any bills that are similar as well as those that might compete with it.
  • Consider the funding that will be needed to promote specific legislation, as well as possible opportunities for favorable mentions in the media.
  • Remember that imagery is important. Frame the issue so that it taps into a universal value (e.g. security, safety). Can it be reframed so a negative idea (drones are scary) becomes a positive one (drones are useful and helpful)?
  • Understand that it’s easier to block an idea or proposal than it is to get one passed.

Another fact of life in politics is that lawmakers looking toward the next election want evidence that there is real benefit to their constituents if they support a certain issue or real harm to constituents if they oppose it. Think of the urgency that helped promote the health care reform law despite zero support from one side of the aisle. “Forty million Americans have no health insurance!”

The public relations angle

Manufacturers often fail to generate support for their issues with messages that resonate with the public. Also, they often fail to reach into their rank-and-file workforce for support that could effectively bolster their issues with lawmakers.

The debate over Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a good example of an issue that both sides have tried to frame using an issue of importance to lawmakers and their constituents: jobs. It was either job-creating legislation or job-killing legislation, depending on which side of the argument one favored.

Companies must work with their employees, supporters and advocates to create frameworks and fresh narratives to propel their priorities forward.

ManufacturingToday-iLobby-JulyAug2015

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Political Advocacy Can Help Your Business

Political advocacy is a government affairs function

Technology offers more ways than ever for Americans to interact with their government, yet the turnout for the 2014 midterm elections was the lowest in 72 years. Even though citizens can read bills online, email their legislators and follow politicians on Twitter, many opt out of the political process.

But apathy isn’t an option for forward-thinking CEOs. While the business mantra is “the customer is always right,” the addendum today is, “the government is always right there.” As such it is second only to your consumer base in its ability to affect the economic value of your business. That’s why more companies are developing a governmental affairs department. While leaders of smaller businesses may question whether they can afford an investment of this type, a better question is: can you afford not to?

The impact of political advocacy

Political advocacy (lobbying) is one way businesses work to influence legislation and public policy. Ideally, they align their business interests with government interests so that both sides benefit. For example, when you enlist your congressman’s help with legislation, it can clear regulatory hurdles for a new manufacturing plant in his district. The business expansion benefits your bottom line, and the congressman adds “job creation” to his list of accomplishments.

If you’re not working to shape the landscape for your organization to do business, be assured the government will do it for you. Government regulations have a huge impact on your bottom line. This is particularly true for newer companies and those operating in highly regulated industries such as health care, energy, banking and telecommunications.

Proportionately, costs of government regulations are even higher for smaller businesses. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, regulation costs for a business with fewer than 20 employees average $10,585 per employee; for those employing more than 500, regulation costs average $4,455 per employee.

On the upside, political advocacy can yield significant returns. According to a 2009 study cited in the Journal of Law and Politics, firms that lobbied for one piece of legislation (the American Jobs Creation Act) had a return of more than $2,220 for every $1 spent on lobbying. That’s a 22,000 percent ROI.

Obstacles to political advocacy

So why isn’t every CEO busy beefing up his or her budget for lobbying? There are several possible reasons. First, people think getting involved in politics is complicated, and it can be. One early version of the Affordable Care Act ran to 2,400 pages. Not everyone can read all the versions, study proposed regulations, monitor the Federal Register and follow all the rules for giving feedback. Want to petition the White House? Just get 100,000 valid signatures in 30 days!

Secondly, the lack of public trust in government seeps into the business community as well. According to Gallup polling, U.S. job approval rating for Congress hasn’t averaged more than 20 percent for the last five years. Rasmussen found in October 2014 that only 19 percent of voters “trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time.” Studies also show that people feel voting and voicing their interests won’t make a difference.

Major businesses, however, do understand the importance of lobbying. Their government affairs people work constantly, not just keeping track of political issues affecting their interests, but cultivating relationships that will yield results. KXAN in Austin, Texas, reported in January 2015 that ATT has 66 lobbyists plying their trade in the Texas capitol alone.

Political advocacy pitfalls

Political advocacy also has potential pitfalls. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Failing to craft a compelling message that gets your points across to legislators.
  • Not getting involved early enough in the political process to shape legislation – being reactive rather than proactive.
  • Forgetting that it’s not enough to throw money around: You must encompass voters’ interests. As former U.S. Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told NPR in 2012, “If the voters have a position, the voters will kick money’s rear end every time.”
  • Not complying carefully with regulations of entities such as the FEC, the EPA and the IRS.

Thomas Rosenfield, president of the HillStaffer government relations and consulting firm in Washington, D.C., said CEOs sometimes assume raising their political profile means hiring a high-priced firm on a retainer for decades. But he said strategic, issue-focused lobbying efforts might just take a few years, or a few months. He added, “Most of the time, elected officials around the country do want to hear what people have to say.”

Best practices

How can political advocacy help your business? Let’s talk best practices.

  1. Establish a government affairs person or department that can steer you clear of potential business problems, stay current on pending legislation, and develop relationships with lawmakers and staff at all levels of government.
  2. Understand the power of having a large, ad hoc constituency to support your policy efforts. Lawmakers will ignore mass-produced online petitions, but are sensitive to how proposed legislation could affect people in their district. Think of the grass-roots growth of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and its influence on laws about drivers’ blood alcohol levels.
  3. Explore new ways to develop support for your issues, such as lobbying efforts that incorporate crowdsourcing and crowdfunding. Tap into a cloud-based platform that improves collaborative communication between constituents and legislators and helps even smaller groups leverage their interests.
  4. Become savvy political players. It’s a powerful statement and good use of time when CEOs serve on advisory committees, cultivate relationships with public officials, and host forums.

Time to jump in

Technology is changing political advocacy, but businesses are not keeping up. It’s time to get proactive and even help pre-draft legislation on behalf of busy lawmakers, but you have to know when and how to get involved. At the same time, it’s a challenge to draw in people who may share your interests, but increasingly rely on social media and mobile devices for information.

The landscape is complex, but don’t let your business get lost in it. With a clear message and a focus on relationship-building, you’ll have more success in promoting the policy goals that could mean the difference between failure and success for your business.

———————–

Originally published in CEO Magazine for High-Growth Ventures 2/12/2015

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How To Find Your Political Voice And Sleep Like A Baby

Anyone Can Change A Law

It is easy to feel disconnected from government and politics in this day and age. With lobbyists, special interests, and powerful billionaires having their voices being heard, there is not much left for the average citizen looking to improve their general quality of life through intelligent and well-enacted legislation. If you want your voice to be heard, then don’t give up. Borrowing heavily from the incredible change seen in the tech industry, there is a 21st century solution to this problem with democracy. It goes by the name of iLobby.

Connect, Debate, Engage

Simply put, iLobby is the easiest way to pass a law. A community based around discussing, proposing, and finding support for laws, iLobby is an incredibly powerful tool and social media platform for bringing about change. For far too long, the voices of individuals have been lost in the yelling contest between the wealthy and special interests. While letters to congressmen continue to be ignored, nothing can stand against the incredible power of grass roots lobbying and social consensus. Old techniques are gone, and a new and improved method is now being utilized. So how can you become a part of the iLobby movement?

A 21st Century Solution To Having Your Voice Heard

Through the iLobby website, you can choose how much you want to participate in the conversation. For example, you can stay in the background and simply listen to the ideas, debates, and movements other people bring to the table. If you want to play a more active role, then you can fully harness the power of being one person with one vote. You and everyone else are real people who have important perspectives necessary for continuing a healthy democracy. Vote on what you feel is important, argue on the merits of what you believe, share and like things that you want to promote, and pledge yourself to a particular cause. In addition if you are successful, you might even get a chance to hire a lobbyist to represent your interests in government.

What Are You Waiting For?

Democracy is rule by consensus. The more you allow your political voice to strengthen, the more you will feel like your contribution has purpose. Remember that anyone has the power to change a law, including you. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Help shape your destiny.

by EP (Guest Blogger)

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Engaging Members in the Lobbying Process

Sooner or later, many organizations will find their fortunes linked to government corridors and committee rooms, where it can still be a challenge to get their members’ voices heard. Apathy is pretty common, unfortunately. Just as the 2014 midterm turnout for Election Day was the lowest in 72 years, when associations make members’ political involvement as easy as clicking an online “take action” button, many still don’t bother. It’s time to introduce newer ways to engage members in grass-roots political activism.

It’s the rare American who can just pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a governmental decision-maker. Yet abstaining from the political process is like failing to make a will—eventually, there’s a gap between your own goals and how the government handles them. Lobbyists help bridge that gap. Major corporations understand this and have long worked the system to their advantage. In 2014, some 11,509 registered lobbyists argued the causes of organizations that shelled out about $2.41 billion for their services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. However, for many associations, influencing decision-makers is more difficult. Just getting them to focus on the organization’s issues is tough.

Lobbying is a fact of life.

It’s the rare American who can just pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a governmental decision-maker. Yet abstaining from the political process is like failing to make a will — eventually, there’s a gap between your own goals and how the government handles them.

Lobbyists help bridge the gap. Major corporations understand this and work the system to their advantage. In 2014, some 11,509 registered lobbyists argued the causes of organizations that shelled out about $2.41 billion for their services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For many associations, influencing decision-makers is more difficult. Just getting them to focus on the organization’s issues is tough.

Who needs lobbyists?

Several types of associations may find themselves most in need of improving outreach to public officials. These include:

  1. Smaller-scale associations that lack budgets for a governmental affairs department or even for a specialized position to handle those duties.
  2. Associations in highly regulated fields. These are groups that acutely feel the effects of government policies, and need help asserting their complex interests. Examples include: health care, banking, energy, telecommunications.
  3. Associations whose members come from businesses operating in the absence of settled law. Think Internet privacy, UAV drones, and startups that threaten the establishment (like Uber or AirBnB).

Which engagement options actually work?

Strategies for offering input to lawmakers range from the traditional to the cutting-edge. Personal letters, emails and phone calls will at least show up in a summary by the lawmaker’s staff. Heavy call volume gets attention. But lawmakers only care about voters and businesses in their own districts. That’s one reason they think they can ignore entreaties that originate with mass mailings or online petitions. Some executives report better results with letters on their personalized letterhead — with real signatures — targeted to specific lawmakers.

Web pages and online position statements may include “take action” buttons. Again, these generate boilerplate communications. And they might require your members to supply personal information they’d rather not share online or to slog through policy verbiage, both of which can discourage people from clicking through.

An innovative political persuasion platform, iLobby.co, also called cloud-based lobbying, applies crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to the political process. Here anyone can start an online dialogue on an issue on which they want elected officials to take action. Others join in, adding their support and/or arguments. Congressional districts are included on the site, which is important because while issues transcend boundaries, voters do not.

When participants in the platform reach a consensus, they contribute funding to hire a registered lobbyist who’s not only savvy about their issue, but able to document the political districts represented.

Lawmakers want feedback.

Online formats facilitate the exchange of information. A former California state senator, Joe Simitian, even encouraged voter feedback through this medium when he expressed his belief, “There oughta be a law.” Yet associations may need to overcome the belief that politics is not any of the association’s business. According to Bob Breault, who chairs the Arizona Optics Cluster, “They consider it ‘corrupt’ and all that politicians do is take money from them — most often for the wrong reasons.”

Yet Breault supports a cloud-based lobbying approach. “People will participate if someone makes it easy to pass along their opinions to the appropriate legislator. Of course, the discussions need to be civil and respectful and factual, and not emotional tirades.”

Online discussions also can turn up real-life stories on the effects of legislation. These are especially useful if an association needs people to tell their stories in a committee hearing.

What’s important to remember is that association members are constituents, too. Since many members already like the simplicity of using services like eBay and Amazon, online lobbying can be a natural extension to foster political relationship-building. They are an easy way to get members more involved in political issues, which are vital to their lives and careers.

————–

Originally published in Association News,  March, 2015

Posted in Congress, Democracy, Grassroots advocacy, News, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Politics Should be in the Fabric of Our Lives.

Politics should be in the fabric of our lives.

It should be as convenient as getting a cup of coffee and adding cream.
It should be as simple and momentary as checking the time.
It should be as insightful as glancing at the weather forecast.
It should be as involved and delightful as buying a stock.
It should provide a recognizable pattern in the same way we recognize trends in the stock market.
It should be as regular and habitual as brushing your teeth.
The political economy is that invisible mesh you know surrounds and affects you but over which you feel you have no control.
Posted in Congress, Democracy, Grassroots advocacy, News, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Two Heads are Better Than One

You Can Influence Policy

People think they can’t do it but they can.

People think they have to write legal language but they don’t.

Voters want to influence laws and policy but they don’t.

Voters think they can influence politicians by choosing the right candidate but it doesn’t always work out that way.

So how do you get involved? How do you exert your intellectual influence so that policymakers get the message?

By overcoming the impediments to success. Which are?

All the little frustrating steps that keep you from getting into the game.

This award winning info-graph by Mike Wirth and Dr. Suzanne Cooper-Guasco (2010) described the legislative process.

What you can do at iLobby

  • Test out new ideas
  • Find people who will influence you
  • Make better suggestions
  • Solve complex problems
  • Get more constituent input
  • Allow people to add comment or criticize suggestions for laws.
  • Discover the impact or unintended consequences before a bill becomes law
  • Unearth real stories from real voters in real districts
  • Build ad hoc coalitions
  • Get input from anytime, from anyone anywhere in the world
  • Use the power of the crowd to solve complex technical and legal issues
  • Help update and revise old laws
  • Get old and broken the law’s off the books
  • Reveal disparities where laws favor one group over another and yet have no current benefit
  • Find like-minded people who share your concerns
  • Become a master or expert in one particular policy area
  • Share best practices with one another from anywhere in the world

What is the new model?

  • Give users a voice
  • Give users and any voter the ability to participate in democracy and laws
  • Provide metadata and good feedback to guide politicians in policymaking
  • Help enlighten the general public
  • Provide a platform for refining legislation
  • Getting input from the public before it becomes locked in stone set in stone

Cartoon Debate Lobby

So what’s different? News vs. Old

In the old model you have few inputs and one output.

In our model you have infinite inputs and one output.

In the old model the process is very slow.

In our model the process is accelerated.

In the old model you have just one point of view.

In our model you have multiple points of opposing views.

The old model makes it difficult for average people to comment.

In our model contribution is easy for anyone.

The old model requires a set time, process and procedure for comment.

In our model those barriers are broken down. Anyone can come in at any time from anywhere.

Under the current model no one knows who has more power or influence.

In our model every one gets ranked and the comments are rated and voted on. Influence is transparent.

So, two heads are better than one. 

Finally, this is an actionable solution but the current (old) situation is not.

This process is transparent and motivations are aligned.

The old process is opaque and self-centered for a few special interests.

This model authenticates users and aligns them with the correct Congressional committee members.

In the old process most of the input is not identified by district and not aligned with the correct committee members… No matter how hard you try.

The old method is inefficient. The new method is very efficient.

The old method is frustrating. The new method is streamlined.

The old method does not always protect privacy but the new method can protect PII (personally identifiable information), puts privacy in the hands of the user and yet can provide aggregated meta-data to create business intelligence and insight.

The old process is not dynamic and not very subject to rapid revision.

The new process is iterative, dynamic ongoing and can easily adapt to changes in a community or in the law.

The old process does not allow efficient coalition building i.e. newspapers, radio, think tanks, party efforts, meetings, Town halls, surveys. Etc. whereas the new method does.

The old method is partisan. The new method is nonpartisan.

The old method focuses on candidates. The new method focuses on issues.

The old method dictates one side of an issue.

The new method is issue agnostic.

The old method favors big donors and moneyed interests while the new method can incorporate anyone with an idea whether they contribute money or not.

The old method is disempowering to voters whereas the new method encourages personal empowerment.

The old method relies on few sources whereas the new method is open source.

The old method relies on experts but the new method relies on the community and the crowd.

The old method trusts only its own closed network.

The new method draws power from the crowd knowing that great ideas can arise from anywhere.

The old method encourages conformity and is exclusive whereas the new method encourages diversity and inclusion.

The old method advocates a centralized power structure whereas the new method has a decentralized power network of influence. Fascinating.

The old method relies on limited sharing of information from the top down, of course. Sound familiar?

The new method advocates massive sharing from the bottom up.

The benefits we’re talking about are transparency, inclusion, contribution, open source, affordable access, money, idea generation, ubiquity, and universality all through the use of technology.

Mobile iLobby Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 12.33.54 PM

It’s a completely new paradigm. 

The old method quickly moves voters into one camp or the other, Republican or Democrat. The new method focuses on issues and discards partisanship.

The old method rewards dependent relationships, the dependence of one person on the next but the new method focuses on self-reliance and individual knowledge.

The old method focuses on groupthink and conformity but the new method stresses individual contribution.

This new method gets past bumper stickers and slogans and into the actual policy decisions.

The old model makes you fly into Washington and protest on the mall.

The new model allows you to comment from anywhere and identify those who agree with you from anywhere.

The new process is DIY, do it yourself. The old process states, “Get others to help you.” because you’re not smart enough to do it on your own.

The new process is multi-tenant self-service for all parties.

The old process has individual competing tenants and special interests.

The new process can integrate at the federal, state and local level. The old process does not.

The new process quickly reveals the key lawmakers at every level of government. The old process requires hours of research, if you’re fast and lucky.

The old process does not connect you with lobbyists or active agents to help you solve the problems unless you have sufficient capital.  The new process connects you with lobbyists whose practice area of focus is on your specific issue.

The current method acts from a 20th century broadcasting model. The new model acts as a multi cast 21st-century networking paradigm.

10 Things We Don’t Do

  1. We are not funneling money to political parties.
  2. We are not telling you who to vote for.
  3. We are not telling you to contribute to specific candidates.
  4. We are not funneling money to elections or candidates.
  5. We are pooling financial resources to increase access for individuals on issues… but on issues only, and it is voluntary and participatory.
  6. We are not a superPAC taking a one sided point of view.
  7. We are not buying television commercial time.
  8. We are not telling you what to do.
  9. We are not telling you what to think.
  10. We are not excluding information that would prevent you from thinking.

We think you know the right thing to do.

We encourage political discourse from multiple points of you to solve complex problems that are facing all of us and may have now escaped the ability of our lawmakers to solve.

We think we need more voices at the table and we now have the technology to support this.

We welcome your input because two heads are better than one.

2 > 1  and  2 * 10X > 100

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Congress Deserves D But my Congressman Gets an A

According to a recent poll [1] the job performance rating of Congress continues to reflect a very low 7% positive job approval score. Why is that?

Why do we accept such poor performance? Do we think if they did more, worked harder, longer, smarter, they’d get a better result?

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Do we want Congress to be more productive and pass more laws with more pages? Even now we learn that Dodd-Frank has 5,320 pages covering 400 new regulations [2]. ObamaCare was a 2,700-page bill and so far has 13,000 pages of new regulations [3]. Or do we want Congress to undo some of the old laws that we no longer like? Would we prefer Congress respond to issues that we think are important? Or did we elect our member to vote the way he or she wants?

If the polls are right and 90% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a poor job, how can that be? Are we accepting mediocrity as the price of freedom? If we vote for the “best candidate” in our district, why are they so effective campaigning as a candidate and so ineffective as a Member of Congress?

Have campaigning and fundraising proficiency trumped their legislative ability?

Ask yourself, why do we keep electing the same politicians if we get inferior results year after year?

Is it because Congress is not performance-based? 
We know it is not a meritocracy. The best do not rise to the top. The best are not rewarded for their great behavior. Seniority rules. So incumbency attracts power. Power attracts position and campaign donations. Then position and donations are used to attract more support, votes and tenure.

Maybe we’re using the wrong metrics when we think about measuring Congress’ job performance.

If the pollsters are right and Congress is as bad as they claim, then each of us is responsible for continuing to elect poor performers to the Congress. Or are they accomplished people who are incapable of getting anything done because they have to continually convince a majority of their 535 peers?

Whenever I have seen voters with their Congressman they are always gushing, the voters not the Congressmen. They refuse to ask tough questions. They throw politically convenient softballs, which the congressman always has the answer to or he makes sure he can use artful circumlocution to wend his way out of a messy question.

Constituents inevitably are very polite. They invite their friends to fundraisers. They are delighted to contribute to the campaign. They seem to be happy with a photo-op standing next to power. And they vote for the same politician over and over and over again.

But when the polls come out, voters polled turn and complain that Congress is not doing its job. Well which is it? They are the doing the job we elected them to do or they are incompetent, economically illiterate, politically mendacious boobs?

If we look at the Congress as a whole it may only be as strong as its weakest link. So, we need to identify the poor performers. They need to be voted out of office.

In corporate America on an annual basis some companies cull 5%-10% of their lowest performing workforce. But if we did that can we expect superior performance from the entire body of Congress? Not if we keep electing the same incumbents for 5, 10 or 15 terms?

I’m not advocating term limits here as some states currently have. This sometimes has the unintended consequence of taking good, seasoned politicians and pushing them out of office.

But if we had a way to systematically look at the Members of Congress, compare them one to the other on an independent basis and discover who falls into the bottom third, it should make it easy to figure out who should then not be reelected.

Political party strategists focus on this but even poor performing incumbents with name recognition can still draw sufficient contributions to drown out a challenger’s voice.

So instead of supporting our congressmen and blindly awarding him an A+ and then complain about the body of Congress by giving them a D-, we should examine closely who our congressman is and ask a different set of questions.

What is my representative’s position on the issues that matter to me and what legislation has he sponsored? What committees or subcommittees does he chair? How much did he receive from his Party committee, the DNC, the RNC etc? Who are his big donors? What percentage of his financial support came from outside his state?

It might surprise you to learn that your district votes may be heavily influenced by media buys sometimes financed by out of state interests.[4] Someone wants you to vote for the incumbent so you don’t rock the boat. Who benefits from his incumbency?

What success has your representative had? What has he done for you? What are his key issues and are his actions really improving your community, your business, your neighborhood and your congressional district?

So if your representative deserves an A, give it to him, but don’t tell the pollsters Congress deserves a D.

Unless you are politically engaged, you may never understand how Congress earns a D while your congressman always gets an A.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

So engage politically, and give your congressman an honest grade.

Take our free 7-day policy + challenge

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[1] Rasmussen, S. (2012, 13-Jul). Election 2012 – Congressional Performance. From Rasmussen Reports

[2] Harper, J. (2012, May 07). Inside the Beltway: Dodd-Frank=5,320 pages. Retrieved from Washington Times

[3] York, B. (2012, 29-March). Washington Examiner. From Obamacare’s 2,700 pages are too much for justices

[4] Megahy, F. (Writer), & Megahy, F. (Director). (2009). The Best Government Money Can Buy [Motion Picture].

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