What is Advocacy?
"one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal" (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
"the act or process of advocating" (Webster’ Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
Advocacy involves actions taken by concerned citizens to demonstrate their support for an issue.
Your voice makes a difference.
Decision making centers around you, the voters. At some point in the legislative process, there will be one letter or one call that breaks the camel’s back and affects change. And while your letter may not be the straw that breaks the camel's back, it may make the last straw possible.
If we don’t speak up and communicate with our legislators, we won’t get what we need out of the policymaking process.
Click here to learn more about what advocacy efforts are underway in your community!
My job won't let me advocate.
Many employees feel that their employer will not allow them to advocate. If you are a citizen of Louisiana you not only have the right, but the responsibility to advocate for causes that are important to you. No job can tell you what you can and cannot do when you are not representing your employer or using their resources.
I just don’t have the time.
Most of us don’t have a lot of extra time. But if we don’t speak out for our own rights on issues such as access to healthy foods and healthy workplaces, who will speak for us? On some issues, it takes as little as five letters or phone calls to tilt a policymaker's opinion one way or the other.
I won't make a difference.
Every voice makes a difference. Look at recent presidential elections. The decision sometimes comes down to a few votes in a few states. Your opinion matters, but it only makes a difference if you make it known. The assumption that your voice won’t make a difference is what makes bad public policy possible.
Someone else will do it.
It is probably true that someone else will contact your legislator, but how do you know they are working for the same cause? There are many groups trying to get their voices heard. If they are talking and you are silent, how will anyone know your point of view? Your silence makes your opponents' voices even louder. Absolutely no one is going to advocate for our priorities—except us. And in many cases others may be fighting against us. There are millions of Americans who share our goals and objectives. Think how easy it would be to change things if each person took only five minutes out of their day to make that phone call or write that letter.
Nothing ever changes.
How often have you heard this? Sometimes, it seems like glaciers move faster than the legislative process. Legislative change happens slowly; the system is engineered this way on purpose. If laws were easy to change, then every swing of public opinion could change laws that would swiftly affect citizens. Though the system is slow, change does happen and you can affect change.
I don't know enough.
You don’t have to know all the details of a bill. Legislators don’t expect you to. All you have to know is why the bill is important. Elected officials put a high value on input from the people they represent.