Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Advocating for Public Policy - It Works!

from Kara Porter, Executive and External Affairs Coordinator

Part of my role as the Executive and External Affairs Coordinator is to advocate for changes and improvements in public policy. That is the reason that sometimes on this blog you may see me asking you to write to a senator or representative about a particular issue. Public policy advocacy is a confusing topic.

Before I was involved with CRCC, I didn’t know much about how to get issues noticed by elected officials – sometimes I didn’t even believe they listened to what constituents were saying. However, my experiences at CRCC have shown me that this is not the case. It is important for citizens to know that you really can make a difference on a local, state, or national level.

You can use this information about public policy advocacy for CRCC, but it also works for any issue that you are passionate about!

So what is public policy advocacy? As a very general description, I would say that it is informing elected officials about a specific issue (and your opinion on that issue) in order to influence their actions. This may involve getting an elected official to vote one way or another on an issue or encouraging the creation of legislation, among other things. This can be done through letter writing campaigns, calling your elected officials, even going to testify in front of a legislative body.

Doing these things is vitally important. Elected officials may represent hundreds to hundreds of thousands of people and they are always working on multiple issues – it is impossible for them to be an expert on every issue. Therefore, they count on the public to keep them informed.

People often say that they don’t write to or call their elected officials because they feel like their message does not actually get to that person. Honestly, I relate to that – I used to think that, too! However, elected officials have staff members to keep track of all of the phone calls, letters, etc that they get from constituents. So if they hear a lot about a specific issue, policy, or piece of legislation, their staff will make sure it is on their radar. This is why the letters that you write and phone calls you make on behalf of CRCC can be so important!

CRCC has seen success in public policy advocacy in the past few months, from helping the organization get stimulus funding to Congressman Steven LaTourette co-sponsoring The Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act.

You CRCC Advocates already do so much for individuals who have survived sexual violence. It can sometimes feel like things are not changing fast enough on a big picture level. But every day people are out there advocating for systems change – and you can be one of them! Thank you for the hard work you have already done and thank you in advance for any letters you write or phone calls you make in the future. And don’t forget that you can use the same tactics for things that matter in other areas of your life.

Keep up the good work!

pictured: Ohio Statehouse in Columbus

No comments:

Post a Comment