Educating vs Lobbying
Amending the constitution will require action from state legislators, and most likely federal legislators as well. Educating the public and passing local resolutions are your first priorities, but you may want to consider lobbying as well.
Many people react negatively to the idea of lobbying, since they associate it with powerful corporations and other "special interests". However, lobbying is simply the act of educating an elected official and urging him or her to take a particular action.
You can ask state legislators to sponsor (or at least vote for) a resolution calling for a constitutional convention, and federal legislators to propose (or at least vote for) the actual amendment. It is a useful tool for organizations working for the public good.
Check out these helpful resources to become acquainted with what to ask for:
- We the People Amendment (House Joint Resolution 48)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Talking Points
- Amendment Comparison (check to see if they have co-sponsored any of these competing resolutions.)
- Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights
Meet with your Legislators
One way to lobby your legislators is to meet with them.
You can set up a meeting either in their place of work or their district office when they are home between legislative sessions. To request a meeting, call or email their office. Every office differs in their preferred scheduling process, so ask which process to use. Give your name, your organization, and explain why you want to meet with the legislator. Be persistent if you don't get a response!
When the date of the meeting arrives, dress nicely (suits, dress pants; shirts with ties; dresses; skirts and blouses; etc.) and arrive on time. It is best if at least one person at the meeting is a constituent of the legislator (up to four people is not uncommon). Put together a lobbying packet that includes your contact information, a copy of the amendment, talking points about Corporate Personhood, and clearly outlines your request.
Here are some printable materials to bring with you and leave with the legislator or staffer (ideally both):
- We the People Amendment Language
- List of Current Co-Sponsors
- Dear Colleague Letter from Lead Sponsor Rick Nolan
- Corporate Personhood Talking Points
- Talking Points for Conservatives
You will probably not have much time with the legislator (often 15 minutes), so rehearse what you plan to say ahead of time and make sure that everyone in your group will have a chance to speak.
You may arrive at the meeting to find out that you are meeting with a staff person rather than the legislator. If this happens do not take it personally; just be friendly and tell the staff person everything you were going to say to the legislator. Staff may be young, but they are instrumental in shaping the legislator’s views. It's not unusual for the legislator to defer to his/her staff for an opinion. It is important to demonstrate respect to everyone you encounter during your visit.
Write to your Legislators
You can also lobby through letter, postcard or calling campaigns. These methods have the advantage of not requiring people to be in the same place as the legislator. If you can organize a large number of constituents to write or call, legislators will take notice.
Collaborate with Endorsing Organizations
One way to influence future legislators is through the questionnaires and interviews that many organizations use when deciding which candidates to endorse. Find out if organizations that support your efforts or are part of your coalition endorse candidates running for state or federal office, and encourage them to include questions about undoing Corporate Personhood and amending the Constitution.
This sends a signal to candidates that their position on these issues may determine their endorsements, and also allows you to hold them accountable once elected if they fail to follow through on their promises.
- How to Get Your Reps to Co-Sponsor HJR 48 (webinar)
- Lobbying Tips and Hints from Jim Price (conference call trainer)
- Citizen's Lobbying By Phone
- Move to Amend Citizen's Lobbying Guide
- Bird-Dogging Candidates (webinar)