Create a local Group
Unite America First is going local with groups that have agreed to organize according to our principles.
Members of Congress
We recommend two key strategic components:
- A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress, City Councils, and School Boards.
- A defensive approach focused on stopping Democrats from implementing an agenda built on socialism, division, Tyranny, and corruption.
How your Member of Congress thinks — reelection, reelection, reelection — and how to use that to save our Republic. Members of Congress want their constituents to think well of them, and they want good local press. They hate surprises, wasted time, and most of all, bad press that makes them look weak, unlikable, and vulnerable. You will use these interests to make them listen and act.
Identify or organize your local group. Is there an existing local group or network you can join? Or do you need to start your own? We suggest steps to help mobilize your fellow constituents locally and start organizing for action.
Four local advocacy tactics that actually work. Most of you have three Members of Congress— two Senators and one Representative. Whether you like it or not, they are your voices in Washington. Your job is to make sure they are speaking for you. We’ve identified four key opportunity areas that just a handful of local constituents can use to great effect. Always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with your group, and report back to local media:
- Town halls. Members of Congress regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
Success may include two strategic choices.
1. Be LOCALLY FOCUSED.
This movement is built on dedicated small local groups. Yes, you may receive some support/coordination from above, but fundamentally organize locally and mobilize in small numbers.
- You don’t need large groups to make a big impact locally. For instance, the Tea Party groups could be fewer than 10 people, but they were highly localized, and they dedicated significant personal time and resources. Members communicated with each other regularly, tracked developments in Washington, and coordinated advocacy efforts together.
- Different people contribute differently. Some members may contribute money and/or resources. While others offer time. But it is important to rally together and focus on issues to hit hard.
2. EXPOSE DEMOCRATIC AGENDAS AND LIES.
One thing the Democratic Party has mastered is creating Propaganda. They bombard the news and social media with what they want people to believe. It’s a form of programming. The more you see it and hear it, the more you believe it.
Groups need to make sure Congress, City Councils and School Boards reject harmful Democratic policies and target weak Republicans. Many constituents are unaware of what members of Congress, City Councils and School Boards are creating and passing. Work to stay aware of policies being created and passed. As a citizen you can request a copy of policies being proposed. Arm yourself with the knowledge so you have a greater chance of arguing your point of view. Use local news, social media meetings, etc. to educate constituents on those policies and how they affect us all.
- Groups focused on local representation. Tea Partiers primarily applied this defensive strategy by pressuring their own local Members of Congress. This meant demanding that their Representatives and Senators be their voice of opposition on Capitol Hill. At a tactical level, the Tea Party had several replicable practices, including:
- Showing up to the Members of Congress’s town hall meetings and demanding answers. We recommend not hackling and being obnoxious. Be prepared with facts and to ask tough questions and create a united front with several attendees.
- Showing up to the Members of Congress’s office and demanding a meeting.
- Coordinating blanket calling of congressional offices at key moments.
Meet at least twice a month and talk about key items to advocate. ( ex. Libraries, churches, homes, YMCA have no cost rooms avail.)
- Get Informed. Arm your group with knowledge and information about the issues that concern you. As informed citizens, you will have a much greater ability to argue your point of view.
- Express Yourself. Once the group has educated themselves about the issues and formulated an opinion, let someone know what you think.
- Take Action. It’s important that your participation in the political process doesn’t end with expressing your opinion. You can do something to actually change current policy. The simplest thing you can do is register to vote.
- If you want to do more, testify at a committee hearing. Did you know that the most critical phase in the lifecycle of a bill becoming a law takes place in the committee hearings? All committee hearings are open to the public. Anyone, including you, can testify on behalf of, or against, a proposed bill. Legislators, lobbyists, subject-area experts, and private citizens are generally in attendance at any given committee hearing. The schedule for committee hearings should be listed at the capitol.
State Capitol Legislation
- Your Capitol should have a Legislative Bill Room. It serves as the liaison between the Office of State Printing, the Legislature, and the public. Here you can get copies of all bills and resolutions within the past two legislative sessions, or four years. Your state capitol may also be a resource. Check out your state capitol website.
Contact the Governor. As a citizen, you are welcomed and encouraged to express your opinions to the Governor. There are several ways to do this. Visit the Governor’s Office located in the East Annex of the Capitol. With the Governor’s busy schedule, it’s unlikely that you will actually speak with him/her personally. But you can leave a letter at the front desk. If you can’t make it to the Capitol, you can email or write to the Governor.
Contact Your Legislator. Your Legislature is responsible for creating laws that represent the best interests of your State’s citizens. Find your Legislator and let him or her know what your opinions are on issues that are of concern to you.
For Congressional Legislation
- Use the https://www.govtrack.us/ site to find items on the docket. You can go to the “Track” tab and sign up for alerts. The website also lists who your members of Congress are, how they have voted, bills they have sponsored and their contact information.
City Council Meetings
- Check out your City Hall website to see when their meetings are. Most have agendas posted days or a week before the meeting.
- Also, stay in informed with your local school district. They also meet monthly. Those agendas should also be posted.
- Both City Councils and School Boards usually give residents an opportunity to talk about issues citizens may be concerned with even if the item isn’t on the agenda.
Members of Congress
Your Member of Congress
HOW YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS THINKS, AND HOW TO USE THAT TO SAVE Republic
This chapter explains how congressional offices and the people within them work, and what that means for your advocacy strategy.
IT’S ALL ABOUT REELECTION, REELECTION, REELECTION.
To influence your own Member of Congress (and local representatives), you have to understand one thing: every House member runs for office every two years and every Senator runs for election every six years. Therefore thy are always either running for office or getting ready for their next election—a fact that shapes everything they do.
Honestly, the vast majority of people in Congress believe in their ideals and care deeply about representing their constituents and having a positive impact. But they also know that if they want to make change, they need to stay in office.
This constant reelection pressure means that Members of Congress are sensitive to their image in the district or state, and they will work very hard to avoid signs of public dissent or disapproval. What every MoC wants—regardless of party—is for his or her constituents to agree that they care about them, they share their values and work hard for them.
If your actions threaten this narrative, then you will unnerve your Member of Congress and change their decision-making process.
WHAT DOES A MEMBER OF CONGRESS’ OFFICE DO, AND WHY?
A Member of Congress’s office is composed of roughly 15-25 staff for House offices and 60-70 for Senate offices, spread across a DC office and one or several district offices. MoC offices perform the following functions:
- Provide constituent services. Staff connect with both individual constituents and local organizations, serving as a link to and an advocate within the federal government on issues such as visas, grant applications, and public benefits.
- Communicate with constituents directly. Staff take calls, track constituent messages, and write letters to stay in touch with constituents’ priorities, follow up on specific policy issues that constituents have expressed concern about, and reinforce the message that they are listening.
- Meet with constituents. Member of Congress and staff meet with constituents to learn about local priorities and build connections.
- Seek and create positive press. Staff try to shape press coverage and public information to create a favorable image for their Member of Congress.
- Host and attend events in district. Representatives host and attend events in the district to connect with constituents, understand their priorities, and get good local press.
- Actual legislating. Member of Congress and staff decide their policy positions, develop and sponsor bills, and take votes based on a combination of their own beliefs, pressure from leadership/lobbyists, and pressure from their constituents.
WHAT YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS CARES ABOUT
When it comes to constituent interactions, Member of Congress care about things that make them look good, responsive, and hardworking to the people of their district. In practice, that means that they care about some things very much, and other things very little:
Your Member of Congress Cares a Lot About:
- Verified constituents from the district (or state for Senators)
- Advocacy that requires effort — the more effort, the more they care: calls, personal emails, and especially showing up in person in the district
- Local press and editorials, maybe national press
- An interest group’s endorsement
- Groups of constituents, locally famous individuals, or big individual campaign contributors
- Concrete asks that entail a verifiable action — vote for a bill, make a public statement, etc.
- A single ask in your communication — letter, email, phone call, office visit, etc.
Your Member of Congress Doesn’t Care Much About:
- People from outside the district (or state for Senators)
- Wonky D.C.-based news (depends on the MoC)
- Form letters, a tweet, or a Facebook comment (unless they generate widespread attention)
- Your thoughtful analysis of the proposed bill
- A single constituent
- General ideas about the world
- A laundry list of all the issues you’re concerned about
SHOULD I FORM A GROUP?
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel — if an activist group or network is already attempting to do congressional advocacy along these lines, just join them. Depending on your Representative’s district, it may make sense to have more than one group. This congressional map tool shows the boundaries for your district.
If you look around and can’t find a group working specifically in your local-focused area. You really just need two things:
- Ten or so people (but even fewer is a fine start!) who are geographically nearby — ideally in the same congressional district
- A commitment from those people to devote a couple hours per month.
HOW TO FORM A GROUP
If you do want to form a group, here are our recommendations on how to go about it:
- Decide you’re going to start a local group This might be a subgroup of an existing activist group or it might be a new effort — it really depends on your circumstances. Start where people are: if you’re in a group with a lot of people who want to do this kind of thing, then start there; if you’re not, you’ll need to find them somewhere else. The most important thing is that this is a LOCAL group. Your band of heroes is focused on applying local pressure, which means you all need to be local.
- Identify a few additional co-founders who are interested in participating and recruiting others. Ideally, these are people who have different social networks from you so that you can maximize your reach. Email your contacts and post a message on your Facebook page, on any local Facebook groups that you’re a member of, and/or other social media channels you use regularly. Say that you’re starting a group for your particular area only.
- Invite everyone who has expressed interest to an in-person kickoff meeting. Use this meeting to agree on principles for your group, roles for leadership, a way of communicating. Rule of thumb: 50% of the people who have said they are definitely coming will show up to your meeting. Aim high! Get people to commit to coming.
- Manage the meeting: Keep people focused on the ultimate core strategy: applying pressure to your Member of Congress, City Council, and School Board. Other attendees may have other ideas — or may be coming to share their concerns — and it’s important to affirm their concerns and feelings. But it’s also important to redirect that energy and make sure that the conversation stays focused on developing a group and a plan of action dedicated to this strategy.
- Name: we would like you to name your group Unite America First + your geographic area of your group so that it’s clear that you’re rooted in the community.
- Agree on principles: This is your chance to say what your group stands for. We recommend two guiding principles:
- Fight Liberal agendas that go against our Constitutional rights. Protect the Constitution.
- To work together to achieve this goal, we must model the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness.
- Volunteer for roles: Figure out how to divide roles and responsibilities among your group. This can look very different depending on who’s in the room, but at a minimum, you probably want 1-2 people in charge of overall group coordination, a designated media/social media contact, and 1-2 people in charge of tracking the congressional office’s schedule, City Council, School Boards and events. In addition to these administrative roles, ask attendees how they want to contribute to advocacy efforts: attend events, record events, ask questions, make calls, host meetings, engage on social media, write op-eds for local papers, etc.
- Adopt means of communication: You need a way of reaching everyone in your group in order to coordinate actions. This can be a Facebook group, a Google group, a Slack team — whatever people are most comfortable with. It may be wise to consider secure or encrypted platforms such as Signal and WhatsApp
- Expand! Enlist your members to recruit across their networks. Ask every member to send out the same outreach emails/posts that you did.
Recruit people for your email list — 100 or 200 isn’t unreasonable.
We strongly recommend making a conscious effort to diversify your group and particularly to center around and defer to communities of people who are most directly affected by Liberal agendas. This could include both reaching out through your own networks and forming relationships with community groups that are already working on protecting the rights of people.
LOCAL ADVOCACY TACTICS THAT WORK
This chapter describes the nuts and bolts of implementing four advocacy tactics to put pressure on your Members of Congress— your Representative and two Senators, City Council and School Boards.
Before we get there though, there are a few things all local groups should do:
BEGIN WITH THESE FIVE STEPS TO GATHER INTEL.
Before anything else, take the following five steps to arm yourself with information necessary for all future advocacy activities.
- Find your three Members of Congress, their official websites, and their office contact info.
- Sign up on your Members of Congress’ websites to receive regular email updates, invites to local events, and propaganda to understand what they’re saying. Every Member of Congress has an e-newsletter.
- Find out where your Members of Congress stands on the issues of the day. Review their voting history and their biggest campaign contributors.
- Set up a Google News Alert — for example for “Rep. Bob Smith” — to receive an email whenever your Members of Congress are in the news.
Research on Google News what local reporters have written about your Members of Congress. Find and follow those reporters on Twitter, and build relationships. Before you attend or plan an event, reach out and explain why your group is protesting, and provide them with background materials and a quote. Journalists on deadline — even those who might not agree with you — appreciate when you provide easy material for a story
*Citation: These ideas and tactics have been duplicated, copied or mirrored from a group called Indivisible. They received or duplicated their ideas from the Tea Party. The information has been adjusted to be more in line with the ideas and mission of Unite America First.