citizen-lobbyists or a tale of two cities continued…


often when we hear the word “lobbyist” we think of the jack abramoffs, scandals, and insider deals cut with legislators … and this is, clearly, one side, the seamier side, of lobbying …

but i think that part of the blame rests with you and me – the regular gals, guys, and whatnot out on the streets here in tennessee … you see, we have too often accepted this particular vision of what lobbying is and fail to accept that we – you and me – are just as capable, and arguably essential, lobbyists in a democratic society …

i witnessed and was part of an alternative model last monday (february 13th) … in nashville, at the friends meeting house in mostly segregated north nashville, some 60 regular work-a-day people gathered to learn about and prepare to be lobbyists…

the 60 people gathered looked like a real cross section of the city – anglos, african and caribbean americans, latinos, the physically challenged, lgbt members, english and spanish speakers – and we had the nashville peace and justice center to thank for bringing us together …

we heard from a now and afl-cio lobbyist on the general principles and from people like myself on specific issues and the key points to make … on the 14th and 15th us regular josephines met with state senators and reps, always with an issue coach, and made our views and our presence known…

140 miles away the little jesuit dude was training people in chattanooga on these same principles, taking the awe and mystery out of the process and act of lobbying and prepared tcask members and supporters to be more comfortable with the process and develop some self confidence (legislators put on their hanes our way the same way we do)…

abolitionists have to know that simply being issue activists isn’t enough to change public policy – we also have to be issue advocates … and to change public policy we need legislators to know that their voting constituents will back them up and even reward them for taking sensible, principled steps including, eventually, doing away with capital punishment altogether …

towards that end tcask will host its first ever lobby day (justice day on the hill) march 29th — and we aren’t gonna be perfect or build rome in a day … butcha know what??? who cares – we’re gonna wade right on in, get our feet wet, take in the experience, process the good and the bad, and use that to help us in 2007 and 2008 as we push towards moratorium and study legislation passing in tennessee…

ya heard it here first…

peace out – <3

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