Most effective way to build political will?
April 22, 2015 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I started volunteering for a group that advocates for a revenue neutral carbon tax. Their main strategies for trying to achieve this goal are: 1) develop relationships with members of congress ("we're betting the ranch on relationships" is one of their unofficial slogans) 2) write letters to the editor and 3) get lots of people to write letters to their congressmen. Is this an effective approach? If not what else could we be doing? Thanks everybody and happy Earth Day!

I ask this question because it doesn't seem like the above is enough. I guess that's my question: is this really all that we as citizens can do and can this get the job done?

I am also a person who grew up believing that politicians don't care what we have to say. Obviously I know they need our votes, but I guess I've believed for a long time that voting and the whole system is an illusion and that the government will do as it pleases.

Why am I volunteering with this group then? Because I believe very strongly in their proposal and it seems like they have a lot of momentum behind them and think it's the best thing I can find that addresses the climate crisis head on.

By the way, the group is called Citizens Climate Lobby (.org).
posted by defmute to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well - on a really simplistic level, politicians will need to support something like this for it to be passed into legislation and implemented. So them being aware of the proposal and on board is really paramount to its success.

But - in my experience anyways - one of the best things that organizations can do when lobbying is to define who is lobbying against them (who would not support it) and to design strategies to either get their support or to neutralize them. In this instance - almost always, carbon taxes are opposed by industry and by those who will see a cost. Are they engaging at all with these folks - and if so, are they winning anyone over?
posted by buoys in the hood at 10:23 AM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Politicians care what you have to say when you can stop them from getting re-elected, or help them to get re-elected.

This means buying campaign ads (TV, radio, web, print mailers) and hiring staff to organize volunteers to canvas for or against a candidate in their district. This means raising money. If you have lots of money and a staff who knows how to use it -- to help defeat or support a candidate in their next election -- that's when they will listen to you.
posted by amaire at 10:31 AM on April 22, 2015


To get anything done you need to engage rich people's short-term self-interest. Climate change, while real and terrible, only threatens rich people's long-term self-interest at this point.

Standard answer: read "48 Laws of Power" and "Manufacturing Consent" for ideas on getting people to do what's not in their short-term best interest.

Bold but impractical and terrifying answer: Get China, India and Russia to agree to a carbon tax first.
posted by sninctown at 10:35 AM on April 22, 2015


Thank you all for your answers. sninctown, I will definitely be checking out the books you mentioned. Yes, if I could find a way to get people to think about what's in their long term interests is a great way to put it.Yes, buoysinthehood, knowing who our opposition is key and not something I feel our organization has done enough of.
posted by defmute at 10:24 PM on April 22, 2015


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