By Larry Drain
The Day of Action for the Murphy Bill is Wednesday October 7. I am most certainly not an expert but here are some hints that I have found helpful in the advocacy work I have done.
1. Make sure you ask your representative to do something. Don’t just say you are against the bill. Ask for something. Ask them to not sponsor, to vote no in committee, to oppose on the floor etc. Ask for something you want from him or her.
2. Tell them who you are. Mention you are a constituent. If you vote say so.
3. Tell them why you are against the bill. If possible phrase it in terms of how it affects you, your family, your community. Make it as personal a comment as possible.
4. One possible objection is that it won’t work or may even make things worse. No Congressman wants to be tagged as supporting something ineffective or counterproductive. How will it affect the mental health system in your state? What problems will it make worse? How does it affect costs? Other services?
5. Another objection is the moral one. Make your objection clear and concise. If possible phrase it in values that resonate with the legislator. Know where they are coming from.
6. If you tweet make only one point. If you have more to say make another tweet.
7. Make email concise. A couple of paragraphs tops. Don’t sound hysterical but do sound concerned. Again make sure he knows what you expect from him. If you don’t ask they won’t take you serious.
8. If you phone you will speak to staff. Ask to speak to health staff if possible. Again be coherent and to the point. Who you are… Why the bill is important to you.. What you want…
9. Act. They count the totals of how many contact them. Quantity makes a difference.
10. Ask at least 3 other people to make a contact. Ask each of them to ask 3 others and each of the others to ask 3 and so on. Numbers mount quickly.
11. Your voice makes a difference.. but only if you use it.
Again just a few suggestions. Hope they help….
Larry Drain is author of Hopeworks Community, a blog about mental health, advocacy and social justice. He is a long time advocate in Tennessee.