The 'Hill' is Not Hard to Climb...It's the Knowing You Must Learn
I love the process of government. Next to talking about entertainment (movies and the theatre), little excites me more that discussing government. In retrospect, how much of a difference is there between the two? I have spent some time ‘up on the hill’. The "hill" is Capitol Hill. Congress, Senate, the White House…….all hugely exciting.
If the Capitol Hill walls could talk; exciting to observe how our government works. Now let’s take care of some housekeeping immediately. There are problems in Washington D.C. I know it, you know it. But when you look beyond the granular of deceit and mistrust, and who is right and who is wrong, let's face it: Washington D.C. is a hugely exciting place to be. The buzz, the power, the decision making. Congress has 435 members, the Senate has 100 members and between the two, the laws of the land get written, debated, discussed, voted-upon, and passed (or not), and sent to the President for signing and becoming law.
Visiting the offices of Capitol Hill will take you to wings of buildings and hallways of rooms one after the other almost identical, and some bigger than others. With these offices come perks; some lesser known than others. Everything from priority at restaurants and airlines to death benefits. I always found it odd that if a member of the House or Senate die in office, their family receives a full year’s benefits, whereas if our servicemen and women should die in service, their family gets $100,000. I didn’t say it was a fair place, I said it was an exciting place.
And on the local level, the statewide halls of their capitols are exciting too. Government in action.
In 1996, the brainchild of Karen Brownlee was born at the then, JDF, now JDRF. We called it ‘Charging the Hill’ back when, now JDRF and ADA have many different agendas up ‘on the hill’ in Washington D.C. in very specific dedicated days. The very nature of these days can be very intimidating to those who do not fully understand the power we have as citizens. There are forms to fill out and a process in place ‘to be chosen’ by someone who deems that you could be an asset to the legislative initiatives by the organization. Committees meet, and finally letters are sent welcoming you to be part of the lobbying efforts.
A few months ago an organization wanted all sorts of requests as to what they should consider in the upcoming agendas of their lobbying efforts. People gave ideas, people followed up with many, many phone calls and letters, and a body within that group decided what they would ‘take on’. An agenda makes sense, I guess. There must be a process in place to figure out what to do. Otherwise how else would things get done…right?
Well not exactly.
I can share with you that in as much power organizations may supply to your efforts, Little David can surely slay Goliath without such power. You see when Reegan’s Rule was introduced into the North Carolina legislative branch of the State, it was not by an organization. It was not as if an organization said yes, or no and an almighty force of organizational power came into play; it was a matter of a mom with a voice who had something to say. And she kept talking until someone listened…….and that someone was Representative Graham.
My point today, and hear me closely. Organizations of all kinds ‘storm the hill’ all the time. You do not always need the power of an organization behind you ... all you need is a cause that is just, and one elected official who can move that ‘cause’ into the action needed. One elected official plus one person who believes in something, strongly enough, connected to make a difference. That’s all it takes. So if you have an idea that is important, and you think you have to convince an entire committee of people how important it is, think again.
What you DO need is the RIGHT person. Not someone who wants to hear herself speak, or be interested in getting his picture in the paper; but, rather, someone who will look you in the eyes and hear your words. Someone who will say, “Yes, this is important.”
And that starts with a phone call to whoever it is that represents you in elected office. Seriously, one phone call. Tell the person who answers your call what is important to you and say, “…….I would like to meet with Senator so-and-so because I have an issue that I need help with. Will you and your office help?” It might not happen in a day, a week, or even a year. But the ONLY WAY to get good at it………is to start. So stop reading and get going.
I am a DiabetesDad.