Former Speaker of the House Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill, Jr., famously once said, “all politics is local.” You may not be able to travel to Washington, DC to be an advocate for SCAI. While Washington “fly-ins” are important to show numbers, much of the important work of advocacy happens at home. All of the tools and tactics available on the federal level are just as powerful, probably more so, when used locally. In fact, most legislative trends tend to start at the state legislature before filtering up to the federal level.
Here are some ideas for grassroots advocacy:
- Get to know your state representative or senator. Visit them in their office (at the state capitol) and just introduce yourself. You are a physician and are automatically a great resource for any healthcare-related question that he or she may have. If you don't have time to visit the office then invite them to yours! Set up a practice visit (essentially "a day in the life"). They will appreciate this and find it interesting.
- In larger states, representatives have staff that are their eyes and ears. It's not always easy to meet with your state representative in-person. The staff member is often just as or more important than the representative or senator.
- Think big but work small. If you wanted to change the smoking age to 21 in your town, that could be done with a city ordinance. If you are ambitious to take it to the state level, look to partner with other resources.
- Work smarter, not harder. If you are going to donate money to a particular representative on a personal level you should call their office and see if they have any fundraisers coming up.