Elections are only the beginning

November 14, 2018
by Sandy Duckert, RESULTS New Mexico volunteer

So, you voted. Now what?

Let’s say you’ve hired a new employee. Are you going to pay them a salary, give them an office and staff, and then go back in a few years to see how they’re doing? What business could do that and function well? Not any I can think of — but that’s essentially what we taxpayers do after elections.

Unfortunately, we’ve been trained to believe that the only way to make our voices heard is through our votes. Voting is essential, but it’s the beginning of civic engagement, not the end. It may come as a surprise to some, but we have a lot more power than we realize. And it all comes down to advocacy.

Members of Congress are busy and they’re often juggling big portfolios. They don’t know everything, and neither do their staffs. That’s where you come in.

As a RESULTS advocate, I’ve found great satisfaction in being thanked by a member of Congress for not only bringing an issue to their attention, but also proposing concrete solutions. Their staff actually appreciates all the background information I provide, because it helps them make more informed decisions on policies they might not have considered. They represent us, but they can’t know how best to do that unless we tell them. And I tell them  — sometimes on a weekly, monthly, or even daily basis. That’s what advocacy is.

Advocacy is also about building relationships, sometimes in creative ways.  I once jumped up off my folding chair and joined a Fourth of July parade to walk with my senator, Tom Udall (D-NM), and talk about a foreign policy bill I was interested in. Another time, I ran into former Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) in the hallway on Capitol Hill and asked him to sign onto a bill while I took a selfie.  His staff member offered to take a better picture and I got even more time to make my case.

After visiting Senator Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) office, his staff asked me to send more information about an issue I had raised. They could have found it themselves, but I was pleased I could do it easily. I knew my stuff, and I knew where to find what I needed – and that’s all because of the training and support I received from RESULTS.

You can be an advocate, too. Those members of Congress we just elected?  They work for usResearch shows that in-person visits from constituents have a big influence – much bigger than paid lobbyists, believe it or not. Of course, paid lobbyists would prefer us to not know our own power and just appear every few years to vote. We RESULTS advocates not going to do that, though. We’re going to keep showing up, keep calling, keep writing, and keep seizing every opportunity to make our voices heard. We’re going to hold our elected officials accountable, today and every day.

I hope you’ll join us.

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