FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It’s About Bringing Your Congress Back Home, Citizens!

The large marches, in Washington, DC and around the country, calling attention to importance of science and focusing on the calamitous impacts of climate change  had impressive turnouts. But the protests would have been more productive if they concentrated more – in their slogans and signs – on 535 politicians to whom we have given immense power to influence policies relating to those issues, for ill or for good.

I’m speaking of Congress.

Congress cannot be ignored or neglected simply because we know it to be a corporate Congress, or a gridlocked Congress, or a Congress that is so collectively delinquent, or perk and PAC addicted, or  beholden to commercial interests, or self-serving through gerrymandered electoral districts where they, through their party’s controlled state government, pick the voters to elect them.

Sure, there are probably 100 good legislators on Capitol Hill. But many of these progressive elected officials fail to effectively network with citizen groups, or organize left-right coalitions back home into an unstoppable political force. Issues that invite such left/right consensus are numerous, including  raising the federal minimum wage, protecting civil liberties, tackling government waste and corruption, advancing solar energy, reforming the corporate tax system, full Medicare for all (with free choice of doctor and hospital) and a crackdown on corporate crime and abuses against consumers, workers and communities. Polls show big majorities behind these  and other much needed redirections and reforms.

All these improvements in the lives of all Americans have to go through Congress. Sure, some efforts can be partially achieved by self-help and state/local governments. But for a national, comprehensive change movement, it is the Congress,  which must be effectively and forcefully instructed to act in the public interest.

The big business lobbies haven’t given up on Congress, have they? They’re swarming over the Senators and Representatives to get the power we’ve given these lawmakers regularly deployed on the behalf of the crassest, most avaricious and harmful demands of the business bosses.

The most successful “citizen lobbies” focused on Congress do not bother with major marches and demonstrations. Groups like the NRA and AIPAC focus, with laser-beam precision, on each member of Congress. They know their background, their strengths and weaknesses, their key advisors and friends back home, their physicians, their lawyers and accountants, the social clubs they belong to, the kinds of hobbies and vacations they pursue. The NRA and AIPAC advocates personally know the lawmakers’ staff, sources of their campaign contributions, their concerns about possible primary challengers, what kinds of well-paying positions members of Congress seek after retirement or defeat.

With this face-to-face lobbying, threats of primary challenges and ample campaign contributions, these groups have gotten their way in Congress to an amazing degree, given their relatively small numbers of supporters.

Here is some advice: Get to know your two Senators and Congressperson personally and on your terms. It’s easier to do this with a comprehensive agenda of long-overdue reforms which can give you broad-based left/right support in your state. Then issue a formal Summons (a draft is in my new paperback, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think) for your Senators and Representatives to attend YOUR town meeting on YOUR agenda of changes and advances.

Every Congressional District has about 700,000 men, women and children. Most Districts have community colleges and/or universities. All have the necessary one percent of serious citizens working together to focus majority opinion directly on members of Congress. Often what is required is less than one percent, or say 2,000 people, working collectively as Congressional Watchdogs for 5 to 10 hours a week and raising enough money for two full time offices each with two staff.

The fruits of such efforts are numerous and immensely important to our country, our children and their children, not to mention the world.

To expedite and increase the ratios of success, such Congressional Watchdog organizations require study, discussions, and some training sessions with easily available material in bookstores or on the Internet. Just consider how much serious input goes into hobbies by millions of Americans all the time. Consider participating in this very important “civic hobby” achieving a better life for the people with “liberty and justice for all.”

Sign up for my free weekly column, which often elaborates on citizens and their Congress, at Nader.org.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail