American Promise Association citizen leaders drive the success of our movement to end the undue influence of big money in politics. Here, several citizen leaders share their best tips for effective civic engagement.
Our national movement for the 28th Amendment is led by dozens of local American Promise Associations across the country. Our work to get big money out of politics will succeed because it’s founded on effective, repeatable victories won in cities, towns, counties and states throughout America.
Passionate American Promise citizen leaders have driven the rapid growth of our movement: As of June 6 of this year, 20 states—more than half of what we need to ratify an amendment—and more than 800 communities have passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass the 28th Amendment. What’s more, hundreds of elected officials and candidates have signed the American Promise Candidate Pledge.
These victories are the result of successful citizen engagement and organization. Here, a few of our citizen leaders share their most effective strategies for success.
Find Passionate People and Connect in Your Community
In 2013 a majority of the Delaware General Assembly signed a letter adding Delaware to the growing list of states calling for the 28th Amendment. Led by Judy Butler, today the vibrant, organized Delaware American Promise Association in Wilmington has the ongoing mission of translating that letter into support in Congress, and keeping Delaware ready for ratification once the amendment gets through Congress. Here, Judy shares her top tips for success.
Build a small group of passionate people: “We’ve found success in organizing a small group of highly dedicated citizens to work together to promote the 28th Amendment. Fully leveraging the enthusiasm of a smaller group can be a more effective use of time than trying to grow the organization just for the sake of numbers.”
Connect to tap into bigger numbers: “Linking up with as many pro-democracy groups as possible (e.g. League of Women Voters, Unitarian Universalists, Indivisible, etc.) helps expand your network and provide mutual support. Building a vast network can connect a smaller organization to a system that has strength in numbers.”
Stay Organized and Focus on Important Goals
Tennessee is building traction on working toward a state resolution calling for the 28th Amendment. Retired city manager and adjunct professor Chet Hunt leads the charge with APAK (American Promise Association Knoxville). He shares his tips for organizing an effective APA.
Map out explicit goals and create teams: “Organize your APA by developing a strategic plan that maps out the goals you’re seeking to attain. Assign a team of volunteers to each goal, and have every group report the status of that goal at each meeting.”
Focus on elected officials: “Always make one of your group’s key goals to meet with elected officials at all levels of government. Seek endorsements and resolutions that support the amendment, and file field reports around what you learn. If we do not pressure our elected officials to act, nothing will be achieved.”
Build a Solid Reputation and Network
The Santa Fe, NM, APA has achieved two recent local resolutions, and worked with now-U.S. Representative Deb Haaland to sign the American Promise Candidate Pledge during her election campaign. Leaders Ishwari Sollohub and John House have helped drive these successes, and they share their insights below.
Maintain a professional attitude and exercise patience: We approach citizen participation as a professional endeavor, taking the issues seriously and becoming educated. When we reach out to anyone—staff, elected officials or our other organizations—we do so in an organized, friendly, and patient manner. We introduce ourselves and our group(s), and briefly describe our work and recent achievements. We also send a link to something relevant to both them and us, to share our common goals or values. This professional demeanor has helped us earn a good reputation in our state, and many important individuals now know who we are and take us seriously. Part of that attitude of respect and patience includes consistently following up with elected officials until we get an appropriate response to our question(s) or the action(s) we have asked for.
Collaborate with other organizations: We always benefit from collaborating with other groups and individuals. Fix-It America, Common Cause, Indivisible, Wolf-Pac, Move To Amend, RepresentUs, Public Citizen, Take Back Our Republic, and Retake Our Democracy are some of the organizations we align with. Benefits include 1) sharing information, 2) more effective lobbying, and 3) participation in joint programs to reach a larger audience. Of course, our relationship with American Promise is one of our most important collaborations. The support, guidance, organization, and inspiration we receive from American Promise is invaluable.