Lobbying 101 Myths & Misconceptions

How Manpower Changes What You Thought You Knew About Motorcycle Rights and Legislative Strategy.

INTRODUCTION:

Not since the late 60’s and early ’70’s have we seen a visible manpower-driven grassroots motorcycle rights movement like the one we are seeing today. COC’s and the US Defenders have mobilized a mass of manpower directed at state legislatures across America, redefining what is possible and changing previous conceptions embraced by the motorcycle rights lobby. The movement to pass laws addressing motorcycle profiling provides powerful insight into the impact of manpower on the rules of lobbying and the emerging landscape.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myths and Misconceptions Because a visible grassroots manpower driven motorcycle rights movement hasn’t existed for the last 30+ years, until recently the motorcycle rights lobby consisted mostly of independents, many 60+ years of age, that have had to endure decades without manpower support. The limitations placed on a movement with no manpower have generated some outdated myths and misconceptions about what is possible with the power of mass mobilization. However, before exploring these myths and misconceptions it is important to point out that those activists that stayed the course, without community participation and support, deserve all of our respect. Lobbying 101 is intended to be a tool to make all elements of the movement more effective and not a condemnation of those that have dedicated so much to motorcycle rights. Although it is true that manpower changes everything, there would be no foundation without those preceding us.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myth: It takes years to pass motorcycle rights laws. Reality: Motorcycle profiling laws can be passed in one or two years. This myth is the result of a somewhat defeatist mentality developed after years of no manpower. Under those circumstances, the argument that “it takes years” is understandable. But mobilized manpower changes the circumstances completely. Combined with the fact that profiling is a Constitutional civil rights issue, motorcycle profiling laws empirically DO NOT have to take years to pass. Washington State received its first hearing in 2010 and passed the House 96-2. In 2011, the law addressing motorcycle profiling passed the House and the Senate unanimously. Those taking the lead in Washington State were relatively new to the movement as well, so the idea that you must have thirty years of experience is false. In Maryland, the first attempt at a motorcycle profiling bill in 2015 also received unanimous support in their Senate. The Confederation of Clubs in Maryland just turned 2 years old and its US Defenders program was only months old. In Minnesota, despite being held up in committee for a major portion of the session, the bill passed their Senate Committee with near unanimous support with some creative political maneuvering. Minnesota is advantaged because their independent community spokesperson understands the benefit of manpower and is an active participant in attempting to unify the efforts of club and independents.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myth: You can’t overwhelm legislators. You have to play by their rules and not rock the boat. Legislators don’t like being bombarded. Reality: Legislators work for the people and manpower is effective because it clearly communicates the will of a visible and active voting constituency. Manpower pressure changes the relationship dynamic between the motorcycle rights movement and elected officials. This myth is likely the result of not having a clear and visible mass movement backing a clear and concise controlled message for the last 3 decades. Of course, all communication and correspondence must be respectful. But this communication should be direct and overwhelming when necessary. Manpower makes the need to compromise principles a thing of the past. This has proven itself true many times, from Washington to Maryland, despite some MRO’s insistence that direct manpower driven action will anger legislators and they will not work with us. Indeed, Washington would have a weakly worded profiling laws if our movement chose not to embrace manpower in favor of being cocktailed by those that some incorrectly believe are their friends. What they are is elected officials with a clear mandate to respond to their constituency. The overwhelming effectiveness of grassroots manpower has been confirmed by legislators themselves on many occasions. Senator Jamie Raskin from Maryland has reached out to the US Defenders to help support his campaign for US Congress because he has observed how highly effective a manpower driven movement is. In Minnesota, although a mass of letters and phone calls couldn’t budge the Public Safety Committee Chair Representative Cornish to grant a public hearing. But Cornish’s obvious no responsiveness to mass constituent pressure led Senator Drozkowski to circumvent the Public Safety Committee by offering the motorcycle profiling bill as an amendment to a transportation bill slated for a different committee. So even when manpower fails to achieve its direct outcome in a particular matter, it almost always opens other doors leading to the overall goal being achieved.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myth: Mass emailings, like form letters, do no good. They are mostly ignored. Reality: Mass emailings, including form letters, have been highly effective in many states including Washington, Maryland, and Texas. Form letters allow the message to be controlled and guarantees a well written correspondence. This approach is used by movements ranging from gun rights to environmental awareness. The vast majority of successful movements use the form letter approach because every person that takes the time to send a letter, even if copied, represents many votes in support of an issue to legislators. Also, any communication is more effective than no communication. Independently, all mass form letter style email actions should be complemented by personal letters written by the primary legislative contacts and leadership of the participating organizations.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myth: My state is different than any other. What works in other states won’t work here. Reality: The democratic process is the democratic process regardless of where you are in America. State legislatures are more alike than different. Despite what many say, state legislatures are not that different from Washington, to California, to Maryland on the east coast. Sure there are nuances and slight differences. But the basic process for passing a bill into law is extremely similar in every state. This claim is validated by research and direct experience. Even political party control is mostly not relevant in this specific instance either. Bills like motorcycle profiling or equal access are nonpartisan rights bills and have received equal support from both parties. This myth is often the basis of resistance to manpower based strategies by longtime activists.

LOBBYING 101 – MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Myth: Paid lobbyists are necessary for legislative success. Reality: Paid lobbyists, unless accountable to a manpower movement, are far less effective, often unnecessary, and sometimes harmful to the goals of grassroots motorcyclists. Paid lobbyists often perpetuate the myth that they are a necessary as a matter of self-preservation. But the actual facts dictate a different conclusion. A manpower driven motorcycle rights movement is far more effective than the paid lobbyist driven strategy. The one exception is a lobbyist from the community, held accountable to the community, paid by the community, and driven by the grassroots element, not the bureaucratic element. The highly effective motorcycling community in Washington State relied on pure manpower, not paid lobbyists. Maryland achieved success in one year with no paid lobbyists, just ABATE and the COC/US Defenders backed by volunteer manpower. Minnesota has made its gains on the backs of volunteers, not traditional lobbyists. The same is true in Texas, where the legislative effort is primarily driven by the COC and U.S. defenders without paid lobbyists. Some will point out that there are lobbying laws in most states that necessitate a registered lobbyist. Consult your states specific law to make sure you are in compliance. Although it may be a good idea to register in some states, an active manpower movement allows direct access to most legislators without a lobbyist because there are constituents of almost every legislator participating. A direct constituent can always contact their legislators without violating any lobbying laws. In fact, paid lobbyists are sometimes harmful. Paid lobbyists representing huge organizations must justify the expense of their salary, so a win is oftentimes the best thing for the resume. Often paid lobbyists are more willing to compromise things like language and stricter requirements on law enforcement. Unfortunately, a win is not always a win and these types of compromises will not best protect motorcyclists.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY: COME JOIN WITH ME AND LET’S FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOM,
RoadBlock 1%er

 

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3 Responses to Lobbying 101 Myths & Misconceptions

  • South Dakota ABATE GOT THE APE HANGAR LAW REPEALED IN 1 SESSION LOBBYING PHONE CALLS LEGISLATIVE DAYS PARTICIPATE AND ALL CAN BE CHANGED

  • Outstanding!!! Thank you for looking out for us all RoadBlock. We love ya bro.

  • One of my favorite quotes:

    It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

    Samuel Adams

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