[The opinions expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the position of ARAUNY.]
Some tactics gleaned from one of the most influential lobbying groups in America…
The leadership, thus their membership, is focused on one encompassing core issue. On the other hand, animal advocacy is comprised of a myriad of issues from raising animals for food, animals in captivity, hunting, trapping, vivisection, and so on. Perhaps if animal rights groups—particularly the national and state—concentrated on a few specialized issues, they may be more effective and avoid frustration & burnout among their members. Just a thought…
The successful lobbying group engages with legislators on a regular basis and encourages its members to do the same. It stresses the importance of voting and of using that right to lobby & endorse candidates. When a bill of interest is due for a vote, the organization mobilizes the membership to call, email, fax, and/or visit with the legislator. Petitions are not part of their lobbying strategy—petitions tend to take up valuable time and energy; some signers believe signing a petition is all that’s necessary to achieve the desired outcome, not bothering to call or write to the decision-maker. Many legislators simply discard petitions, especially if they’ve been signed by people from other countries.
Grassroots outreach is a great way to educate potential advocates, not
only of animal rights issues but of the importance of knowing who our representatives in government are and of voting in elections. We can print and hand out legislative scorecards. It would be great if animal advocates generated as many calls to our representatives as do the opposition. One bill that needs a lot of our attention is the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 (S.405) in the U.S. Senate. If enacted, this will be disastrous for American wildlife, our National Parks, and public lands by opening up more federal land for hunting, allowing the import of polar bear “trophies” into the U.S., making permanent the exemption for lead shot from EPA regulations, and much more. We need a massive outpouring of opposition to our U.S. Senators to this ill-conceived bill which has been introduced the last few years by members of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus, who represent hunters, anglers, & trappers.