Episode 2 | Ten Commandments of Effective Advocacy

Jan 12, 2022

When plugging in for today's episode, be sure to print your handouts, which you can download for FREE! It is as easy as selecting the “download resource now” button below this dialogue box, entering your email address, and receiving your resources right away!

Have you ever wanted to voice your opinion or advocate for your beliefs? This episode is a back to the basics of advocacy that will help to empower you as a citizen.

Also, don't miss out on interacting with other Kitchen Table Activists in this movement! Scroll to the bottom of this post to find comments and prompts to engage you in connecting with likeminded Activists. We get to lean on each other as we venture deeper into our individual journeys. Now is your chance to capitalize on this once in a life, real-time, opportunity.

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Hi! Welcome to the Kitchen Table Activist. I'm Karen England, and I'm glad you're joining me for a second episode. The point of this podcast is to empower and equip the public to engage in the public square and that can be your local school board or city council. It can be as simple as whatever's going on in your community that you really want to engage in. You know, Americans are realizing all over this country that their country isn't the same, their state, their city isn't the same. Even red states are realizing that there are a lot of progressive, California policies creeping in at the local level. And, that it's time we wake up to this. I watch the news and I listen to talk radio, whether it's Mark Levy or any of those talk show hosts, they talk about getting involved, but no one shares HOW to get involved. 

I was one of those people. I was a mom who had never voted and, 35 years ago, I didn't know what was going on. I went from being a kitchen table activist to running a pro family public policy organization, which is where I am now. We are based out of California, Capital Resource Institute, and we work in parental rights and religious freedom. My heart's desire is to use this platform to help equip you on the ground, to learn from the things that I did wrong and I still do wrong. Also, to teach you things. You know, I'm asked to speak to a lot of different groups and I just can't get everywhere. So this is one way I can share the information that I have learned, information like, how to do a FOIA and what are the best practices.

If you're going to start a parent group, what is critical race theory and social, emotional learning, and how do we identify it? Our next podcast on Friday is going to be the Back to School Checklist. Since many parents are sending their kids back to school, whether again, you're in a red or a blue state, we have a checklist to help you ask your child questions and certain policies to look at just to identify what might be going on in your school district that's a little bit progressive. So, I want to thank everyone that downloaded the podcast. We are over 200 in less than 48 hours of upload. So, thank you! Keep spreading the word! We want to equip the people. Again, we're being motivated by different groups and different people to go get active. I want to give you the tools so that you'll have a toolbox to get active. I don't want the idea that you don't know what to do or how to do it to frighten you, because that is what they are counting on. They are counting on keeping us paralyzed and for the process to look intimidating so we all just shut up and stay home. But we're just not going to do it.

I'm going to look really quickly and I just want to give a little shout out because this is a podcast. People have been sharing it from Clarksville, TN, Reno, NV. We have Chino Hills, shout out to Chino Hills, Lansing, MI, Turlock, OR. Let’s see, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington. So thank you to everyone that has been, that the you've been sharing this. And I, I hope that you will continue to download and share the information.

Today's podcast, we are covering the Ten Commandments of Effective Advocacy and this is a talk that I would always give in our citizen lobby days. I started this years ago and have been modifying it, but it's one of the most popular ones. Social issues are something at Capital Resource Institute and my entire career, I have worked on and kept me passionate. So, a lot of my stories will be built around social issues or parental rights or school. That's kind of been my expertise, but this applies to anything. If your passion is guns in the Second Amendment, this entire Ten Commandments, you just need to tweak it and apply it. It can be applied to the school board and to city council. And so let me start with that, but keep it in mind if your issues aren't the same as my issues, it doesn't matter. You can still apply these 10 principles.

So, the first one is knowing the legislator. Right now, it is a perfect time to get to know your legislators. You can get to know them when they're running as candidates, which right now a lot of people are running for school board. So, you can find out who's running, go to one of their town halls and just sit there and listen. Or if it's a candidate, you can get on their email list to find out what they're interested in at city council. If they're somebody running for assembly, you know, the other thing to check out are voter guides. Many organizations will do a voter guide. And I love using voter guides because politicians can tell us all they want, how they're going to be conservative and vote for us, but on a voter guide, it tells the story that is where they actually voted. And whether you go to Gun Owners of California or Gun Owners of America, or the NRA, or one of the life groups like National Right to Life, look at the scorecards, find out. Family Research Council has a really good scorecard on social issues. Find out how these people voted. I want to know how they voted. I don't want to hear how they're going to represent me. I want to see how they HAVE represented me. You know, I recently did a lot of work in Nevada and was a bit heartbroken at the number of conservative Republicans that not only scored under 50% on our scorecard, which is kind of hard to do, but they were scoring terrible on the American Conservative Union, and you know, several other scorecards, taxes. And yet they had a score with Planned Parenthood and some of the other groups. I mean, I really don't want to vote for someone that's at a 50% with Planned Parenthood. I just don't. So it's an important thing to get to know your candidate and find out what's of interest to them. When I first got started, we had to do this through clippings in a newspaper, and I used to keep clippings of different candidates in case it came up later. And it would tell me about their family, which helps. Get to know your legislator, even if you're in an area and you don't agree with your legislator, get to know your legislator or your school board member and elected official. That's how I should say it.

So, the number two thing, and I've moved my 10 commandments around in order, but I think this is important if you're a beginner or not even a beginner, that sounds so silly, because we're all citizens, but you've never really engaged. The first thing, it makes it easier if you really believe in what you're advocating for. So, if you want to talk with your legislator or you're going to develop a relationship, pick an issue you are passionate about and you know about. So even if you want to get involved in another area, but you are you're an insurance salesman, maybe you can have a conversation with your legislator about insurance and that can build the relationship. You don’t have to share your concerns right off the bat, but pick an issue that you're passionate about. You need to believe in what you're advocating for. There's no point in going in, if it's something you don't believe. We'll talk about this later in the 10 commandments, but often I'll get calls to go jump on other issues and there are other issues I care about, but they're not core to who I am. I'm not as passionate or knowledgeable about those issues. You know, I'm not soaking up the information every day on the second amendment. I just, I'm not. So I'm not the person to go advocate for that. Now, if I wanted to take two days, you know and prep, I certainly could. If I wanted to go testify on a bill or before a school board on an issue, but that helps if it's something you understand, you're passionate about, and you have knowledge.

So with that goes number 3, establish a relationship. And now is the perfect time for number one and number three, because get to know your legislator right now as we get going into an election year. So whether it's a federal seat, which is Congress, so that is your House of Representatives or at the state level, whether it's, let's see, they call them house of representatives in California and in Nevada, they call them assembly members and senators. You know they're called different things at the different state levels, but the assembly are all up for election. So, they're out doing town halls, going to coffee shops, doing meet and greets. They're wanting to hear from the people. So go and establish a relationship again, even if you're in a blue area and they don't represent you, at least establish your relationship. You never know when you will be able to agree to disagree, but there might be a place where you can get something amended a little bit that makes it a little less evil. But have that relationship. Too often, I share in my story and if you didn't see the first podcast, please go back and listen to it, cause I talked about how the very first school board meeting I went to, it was because I'd heard about this religious right extremist person. And I wanted to find out who was ruining our school district. Cause that's what the newspaper was saying. And I went there and it was like, oh my gosh, I'm her. I'm that person. Because I think like that. So often they have a perception of us and it's so disarming when they actually meet us and find out we have a lot more in common.

The next one on number four is, to be prepared. It's important that you're prepared on whatever issue you're going to go in on if you're going to go for a formal meeting with a legislator. It's interesting. People assume legislators read their bills, but they don't, a handful nationwide do in California. Over 2020, 500 bills are introduced in one session. It's impossible to read that. In other states there are thousands and thousands. I mean, Tennessee, it would be impossible to expect a legislator. I would like to, but to expect him to read every single bill, understand every single bill and issue. People go into office, whether it's school board or city council with a different kind of background. It could be insurance. It could be business. It could be if you're an assembly and it could have been, you were on the school board and education is important to you. So there are regulations, and they're just different issues that people are passionate about. You need to remember that when you are meeting with the legislator.

So, I think it's important, especially on social issues, that I like to become the resource. I work in the life area, specifically parental rights. I do a lot with gender ideology. I do a lot with comprehensive sex ed. I don't expect legislators to know everything. I know now I want them to meet with me and I want to be able to lay out the case and say, here's what the curriculum is doing. Or if the language and the bill says this, this is the unintended consequence. So you need to not be afraid to become the resource for that legislator. You know, you could have a conservative Republican that really doesn't understand the arguments around the second amendment. So be a resource for that person. They have staff, but again, staff may not be the person and they're working several bills. And so, you know elected officials have lobbyists. They have everybody vying for their time.

I've said this before. There is no lobbyists for the family and for a lot of the family issues it's us. And so we need to be the resource for them.

So the next one on number five is tell the truth. So you always want to be honest. And if you misspeak, you want to go back and clarify. I will be the first to say I can do this. I can get all riled up telling a story or sharing something and I might exaggerate. Or if you do that on an issue, you really need to go back and clarify it with the person. Do not be afraid and just leave it, because the minute you lose credibility, you probably will never gain it back. But if you are telling them a bill does this and it doesn't, or you can't back what you said up, they're never going to listen to you again. But if you show them that a bill, this is what this will do. And it did in other places, or you can have a legal brief that backs you up. That's crucial. And so, it's important that you tell the truth and if you get something wrong, you clarify, or you say, I don't know, but I'm going to go back and find out. So that's an important thing. And that goes back to establishing the relationship. Can they trust you?

Number six is know the opposition. This is one of my favorite; people that know me, or even don't know me, are really kind of shocked. And what they're shocked about is that I spend a lot of time on CNN and MSNBC. I spend A LOT of time on it. Almost every day, during the day I have one of those on. It’s not that I'm watching, but listening. It's important to know what the other side believes, why they believe it, and what objections are going to be. Yes. I admit there are times I am yelling at the TV. I have been known a time or two to take a dry erase marker up on the TV and draw horns. I have done that. I'm not always the most mature person. So you need to do that though, in order to know what the objections could be. And I'm going to give you a couple of examples. You know, our organization, is used for opt in on and transparency on controversial issues in schools. And one of the objections we get from parents when they go in and hear this at first, they're really taken off guard and they respond, “if we do an opt in, those parents that aren't taking care of their kids aren't going to be in sex-ed. And they're really the ones who need it. So, we can't do an opt in.” And on its face, you go, oh, okay. Yeah, because you don't want them more harmed or neglected than they already are. But if you kind of know that and you've thought about it and maybe hooked up with an organization that, you know, again, if it's a second amendment, they probably have FAQs on certain issues. You can be prepared to go in and respond to that criticism. So I would respond on that issue with the idea that it actually helps those kids because when the form doesn't come back, it alerts that teacher. The teacher maybe needs to make a phone call home and say, “Hey mom, I didn't get this form. Is there anything we can do?”. It might alert to something that's going on and it might just be, as simple as, they forgot to do it. But, knowing the opposition and what objections they're going to raise. Again, second amendment is not my thing, but you really need to know your facts. I know the facts aren't on all of the other people's side on that. Whether it's the AR and you know, all the stuff they view, you want to have facts. So you need to know what they're going to say so you can, number seven, communicate effectively. And this is always hard, especially if you believe in what you advocate for. And I'll be the first to say, all these years later, I still struggle. I have a taste of snarky-ness to me that I have to control. And so, I want to share that passion is good. You should be passionate, especially at a school board. If you can tell a story, how did this impact my child? 

Go back to know the legislator. So there have been a couple of times there was a legislator in California and he did some indie film and what really related to him. He was willing to regulate something in the schools because he didn't want somebody else coming and doing bigger regulations. I don't know if that makes any sense, but the way the film industry worked he said, if we don't do this, it's going to be worse when somebody else comes in and does it. And he was a dad, liberal on everything. Didn't agree, but he could agree on parental rights. So I know every time I went to talk to him about any issue, I would try and find a parental rights way to do it and that meets him on his level, number eight, negotiate when necessary. If it advances the ball without compromising the game, then you can negotiate. If it's just, they want you to add some language in a bill or, you know, they want to take the seven to eight days that's okay. It's okay to negotiate and not get everything you want right up front. But it's also important not to compromise what you believe. And all too often, conservatives negotiate everything away and they're doing nothing but compromising and that you don't want to do. 

Number nine. Gosh, I struggle with all of these, so I should probably do a podcast on this to remind myself regularly, choose your battles. This is so hard, especially when we're all waking up and seeing what's going on in the country Choose your battles. This has taken me years to learn. It helps if you have a mission statement, if you're a local group or like we are a large organization. We do have a mission statement, but then we have a specific kind of grid that we created that says, okay, if a bill does this, then it's a priority one for us, a piece of legislation. If it does this, it's priority two. So that way, when a friend calls me really upset about another bill and wants our organization to jump on board, I have something to go measure it against because I would be out everywhere, testifying on everything and at every school board meeting about every issue.

And so that helps you because that brings us to, to number 10 of the 10 commandments of effective advocacy. And that is persevere. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is not going to be over in 2022, 2024. We are just starting with the left. They have been busy working at this for years. This is going to be a long process of engaging in order to take our country back. We have been apathetic and we have thought everything is okay. Cause we live in a red state. Everything is safe or everything is okay, because, so-and-so is in office. It's not. The left have been outmaneuvering us and they are in our schools. They are anti-American and no one, NO ONE, is going to stop them, except us. You know, Reagan had a famous quote, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”. And that's my question to everybody listening, moms and dads, students that are doing turning point groups. Who's going to stop this from happening if we don't do it? This is the government we've been given, and we are blessed to have this kind of a government. If we don't do it, nobody will. And then somebody else's values are going to be the only values in the public square.

So questions or comments? I was getting some great ideas and constructive criticism after my last podcast. Go to the [email protected] Let me know where you're listening from. Is there a topic that you'd like to hear? Do I need to explain something better on one of the topics I already did? And as I like to say, really, you need to pray about where the Lord would have you get busy because maybe you've been called for such a time as this.

 

~~Karen