Animal Rights and Effective Political
Action (Part II)
By Peter Muller
In the last issue of the C.A.S.H. Courier we talked about
electioneering as opposed to lobbying. You’ll recall that electioneering
consists of attempting to get candidates elected to public office,
whereas lobbying consists of communicating with legislators about a
specific piece of legislation — either asking them to create it,
endorse it, or oppose it.
We also pointed out that we should do both, but most
AR-organizations can only do limited lobbying and no electioneering
because of their 501(c) (3) status.
Today I’d like to talk about the synergy of lobbying
and electioneering and why we must do both to be effective.
The most effective lobbying directed at office-holders
is done by their constituents. The prime directive under which
any elected official operates is: “Above all else: get re-elected.” Re-election
may be for the same office or a higher office – but it’s always based
(at least in part) on maintaining and enhancing their relationship
with their voting constituency. By the same token, if there is a torrent
of demands for or against a bill from outside their constituency – since
those opinions cannot influence the election – they are pretty
close to irrelevant to the office-holder. (It is true that in some
incumbents will not run for re-election but they still may want
to maintain a good relationship with the voters that put them into
so that they and their party can effectively designate their successors.)
Essentially elected officials are beholden to their voter-base
and to no one else.
To be effective lobbyists we must be counted as part
of the voter-base.
If you tried lobbying a legislator on an issue outside
your district – you no doubt know that having all the science and all
the ethics on your side doesn’t matter – the only thing that sways
politicians is their perceived enhancement or degradation of their
How do we get to be counted as part of their constituency – as
an organized group? The only way to do that is to help them get
elected by an electioneering effort in their behalf.
What electioneering efforts are available to us as an
It would be nice to give candidates for office $10,000 – that
would make us part of their constituency since they know how to
convert cash into votes (campaign advertising.)
But for the most part – we can’t afford it. But we do
have valuable resources: Voters.
Even in state legislative elections the campaign cost
can be in the neighborhood $100 per vote. If we can give the candidate
200 votes, that’s the equivalent of $20,000. If we have a list
of Animal Rights voters in the district to which we can do a post-card
endorsing the candidate, we can become part of the voter base.
In many small state legislative districts, and even more so for
districts, the decisive margin in elections is less than 200 votes.
It is useful to remind the candidates that you’re helping
them if you can get two or three volunteers to their campaign headquarters
to help out with the campaign. Be sure to make the volunteers wear
T-shirts or sweatshirts with your organizations name on them – so
they are identifiable.
Lobbying is an entirely different story once you’ve helped
a candidate get elected. Your call now won’t get passed around
from clerk to clerk, nor will you wind up with a form letter after
to explain your position. Now the office holders or their top-aides
will get on the phone or be happy to meet with you and take an
interest in you position.
In our experience lobbying only works if you are part
of a candidate’s voter-base which you can only be, as a group,
if you help put the candidate into office.
So how do we get a minimum of 200 AR-voters in each district – find
out in the next installment of “Animal Rights and Effective Political
If you can’t wait Contact at http://LOHV-USA.org