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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/13/19

Lobbying 101: Tips for Increased Political Engagement in 2019

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Making change happen in the world is not easy, but it is possible. This is done through social change, public education on key issues, and electing well-informed officials. It is also done through lobbying, which can be done by upstanding, motivated citizens like you.

Though politics can often seem like a complicated and unappealing game, there are many simple steps you can take to advocate for important issues in your life. Compiling a strategic toolbox and getting out there to practice will help you become an expert lobbyist and a successful one, too.

Why Lobbying Is Important

Many large corporations and industries actively lobby for their own interests. Unfortunately, these interests can often have a negative impact on the public, who don't have the same kind of resources that big corporations do. In fact, corporations have been spending more on lobbying than taxpayers spend on funding Congress since the early 2000s.

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Now, there are over 20 major industries that have spent over $1 billion dollars each on lobbying for their interests over the past couple of decades, according to Investopedia. With the skyrocketing prices of healthcare and medicine, it should be no surprise that leading the list is pharmaceuticals/health products . By influencing politicians, Big Pharma is able to raise their prices to ridiculous levels.

Of course, not all corporations lobby for such duplicitous reasons, but effective lobbying does require action equal in fervor, if not money. This is usually done by nonprofits and/or individuals working together to lobby for the rights and welfare of the people. By getting all hands in to help, nonprofits often provide some tools necessary to help individuals successfully bring about change with lobbying and advocacy training. Though the two are similar, understanding the difference between lobbying and advocacycan improve efficiency in evoking change:

● Lobbying: Efforts to directly support or oppose legislation.

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● Advocacy: Educating and promoting a cause that speaks to local, state, or national concerns.

Both of these tactics should be employed to protect the rights of the people. Corporations have lots of money to back their interests, but that is not the only influential factor in politics. Legislators are voted for by the people, and their actions should reflect the needs and desires of their constituents.

Effective Lobbying Best Practices

Getting involved in politics requires strategy. While some causes, such as foster care, are easier to gain support, partisan issues can make it hard to lobby for your cause across the aisle. However, by employing some effective strategies and going into meetings and sessions prepared, you can increase your potential of success.

The first step to lobbying is coming up with a plan. You may choose from the different types of lobbying, including the following ways as listed by the international animal protection non-profit, World Animal Net:

● Face-to-face meetings with legislators

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