Review: The Citizen Lobbyist

The more our citizens (that’s YOU) engage in public policy and with our elected officials, the more our government — and therefore our society — will benefit. – Amanda Knief, The Citizen Lobbyist

There’s a new resource out for those who want to participate in government and influence our political process. With a 5×8 size and 100 pages, it truly is a handbook for action to provide quick reference and a concise primer to get YOU involved in your government. On sale now at Amazon.

The Citizen Lobbyist is written by Amanda Knief who previously worked as a legislative drafter for the Iowa legislature and lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America. She is now in-house counsel for American Atheists. She provides expertise and examples useful for everyone but drawn from her experiences as a nontheist activist.

This picture taken while she was asking President Obama about his secular government policies.

This picture taken while Amanda was asking President Obama about his secular government policies.

The handbook opens with an introduction to lobbying, including basic definitions and the advocacy and educational purposes. For example, don’t be worried about being a citizen lobbyist. As long as you’re not paid, you are probably not subject to any restrictions even if you represent a nonprofit. Chapters 8 and 9 provide valuable instruction on how to lobby to help research your facts and target those facts to your audience. The issue is relevant to you, but your task is to make the issue relevant to the official you plan to lobby.

Some advice may be counterintuitive as well: Don’t forget the opposition. Even if you know your official is absolutely opposed to your point of view, drop by and make your voice heard. A measured and reasoned opposition can really open eyes to some elected officials who may actually think they have a universally supportive base. Especially if you are in the minority, drop by with a few friends and a group logo to show them the votes they stand to gain with your support.

There are lots of other stories and resources. The appendix even has a long list of national and state resources, a sample position paper, and a transcript of a visit to a lobbyist — all to help you prepare for your lobbying efforts. Drop by to get advice and tell your story at The Citizen Lobbyist Facebook page.

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