How Do You Spell Love? We Spell It L-O-H-V

Animal Rights and Effective Political Action (Part II)
By Peter Muller

In the last issue of the C.A.S.H. Courier we talked about electioneering as opposed to lobbying. You’ll recall that electioneering consists of attempting to get candidates elected to public office, whereas lobbying consists of communicating with legislators about a specific piece of legislation — either asking them to create it, endorse it, or oppose it.

We also pointed out that we should do both, but most AR-organizations can only do limited lobbying and no electioneering because of their 501(c) (3) status.

Today I’d like to talk about the synergy of lobbying and electioneering and why we must do both to be effective.

The most effective lobbying directed at office-holders is done by their constituents. The prime directive under which any elected official operates is: “Above all else: get re-elected.” Re-election may be for the same office or a higher office – but it’s always based (at least in part) on maintaining and enhancing their relationship with their voting constituency. By the same token, if there is a torrent of demands for or against a bill from outside their constituency – since those opinions cannot influence the election – they are pretty close to irrelevant to the office-holder. (It is true that in some rare cases incumbents will not run for re-election but they still may want to maintain a good relationship with the voters that put them into office so that they and their party can effectively designate their successors.)

Essentially elected officials are beholden to their voter-base and to no one else.

To be effective lobbyists we must be counted as part of the voter-base.

If you tried lobbying a legislator on an issue outside your district – you no doubt know that having all the science and all the ethics on your side doesn’t matter – the only thing that sways politicians is their perceived enhancement or degradation of their voter-base.

How do we get to be counted as part of their constituency – as an organized group? The only way to do that is to help them get elected by an electioneering effort in their behalf.

What electioneering efforts are available to us as an organized group?

It would be nice to give candidates for office $10,000 – that would make us part of their constituency since they know how to convert cash into votes (campaign advertising.)

But for the most part – we can’t afford it. But we do have valuable resources: Voters.

Even in state legislative elections the campaign cost can be in the neighborhood $100 per vote. If we can give the candidate 200 votes, that’s the equivalent of $20,000. If we have a list of Animal Rights voters in the district to which we can do a post-card mailing endorsing the candidate, we can become part of the voter base. In many small state legislative districts, and even more so for county legislative districts, the decisive margin in elections is less than 200 votes.

It is useful to remind the candidates that you’re helping them if you can get two or three volunteers to their campaign headquarters to help out with the campaign. Be sure to make the volunteers wear T-shirts or sweatshirts with your organizations name on them – so they are identifiable.

Lobbying is an entirely different story once you’ve helped a candidate get elected. Your call now won’t get passed around from clerk to clerk, nor will you wind up with a form letter after trying to explain your position. Now the office holders or their top-aides will get on the phone or be happy to meet with you and take an interest in you position.

In our experience lobbying only works if you are part of a candidate’s voter-base which you can only be, as a group, if you help put the candidate into office.

So how do we get a minimum of 200 AR-voters in each district – find out in the next installment of “Animal Rights and Effective Political Action.”

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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561