Spring has sprung, and the Bomb Squad is springing into action! This week activists across the country, from Washington to Maine, are meeting with their representatives to demand change. No First Use and Hold The LYNE are exactly the kind of change we need to put checks and balances on our nuclear system, and we can’t stop until they’re signed into law! In case you couldn’t make this week of action we’ve put together a step by step guide to help you next time. It’s never the wrong time to schedule a meeting with your representative, and just because you couldn’t get out there this week doesn’t mean you shouldn’t in the future!
Step one: Make that appointment!
Meeting one-on-one with your representative can take months of planning, but getting a meeting with a legislative aid is usually possible within a week or two. Meeting with an aide is just as important as meeting with your Senator or Representative! These aids are the people your rep relies on when making decisions and they counsel the representative on what the constituents have asked of them.
The first step to making a meeting with your official’s office is usually to make that request on their website. For instance, Representative Connolly has a meeting request form on his website, but not everyone does. For some representatives you’ll need to send an email from their house.gov website. Be sure to mention the reasons for your visit and let them know you want to discuss nuclear weapons legislation. After you’ve made the initial request it’s best to follow up a day or two later by phone. If you find yourself having difficulties getting a meeting set up, feel free to reach out to our team at Beyond The Bomb and we can help!
Step two: Get prepared!
Once you have your meeting set, start finding other constituents to go with you! Post on Facebook or Twitter, or even create a Facebook event to invite others! Going as a group of three to five is the perfect size to show your official that it’s not just you who’s concerned. You can also mention anyone else who lives in the district that supports No First Use and wasn’t able to make it. We have petitions available to print, and those are another great way to show larger scale support!
It’s best to keep these meetings focused on one or two bills. For the Spring Cleaning Week of Action, we focused on H.R.921 – No First Use, and H.R.1086 – Hold The LYNE. Spend some time before your meeting reading up on the bills, other bills on the table, and similar bills your representative has worked on in the past. If they’ve already co-sponsored one of the bills, a meeting is the perfect time to thank them for their support and ask them to endorse the second bill as well. If you’re more of a visual learner we also have a webinar on lobbying! Get all the information you need in less than a half hour!
We’ve also put together some materials for you to print out and leave behind with the office, highlighting everything you’ve discussed! Print that out here.
Step three: Hit the ground running!
It’s the day of your meeting! If you’re going with other people, pick a central spot to meet at so you can all get to the office at the same time. Make sure you get there a few minutes early, bring a notepad to jot down anything important, and dress professionally! Expect to spend ten to thirty minutes with your representative or their aid.
When you sit down, be sure to introduce yourself and explain what has brought you to the office today. Now is the perfect time to go into your own personal reasons for fighting against nuclear weapons use.
After everyone has been introduced, jump right into the bills that you’re there to talk about. You don’t need to be an expert on nuclear weapons, but you should be prepared to explain why you feel like these bills are the answer. Don’t forget to bring up how these issues affect your community. Your leave behind material also has a lot of information on the bills being discussed, so you can focus on convincing your representative that their constituents support these policies.
As your conversation progresses, make sure you’re writing down any important statements or any objections. Objections are important here; as we try and convince representatives to support these bills we need to know what’s stopping them! The same goes for any commitments the office makes; we want to be sure to follow up on those!
Step four: After the meeting.
You made it! Congratulations and thank you! In the days following your meeting, reach out to the member or aid you spoke with and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Remind them of any commitments they made, or provide further information on any questions they asked you. If you don’t have the answer, reach out to us! We’d love to equip you with the knowledge to take back to the office. Keeping up a conversation like this helps you build a relationship with the office! And, don’t forget to let us know how it went. As we continue to push representatives to do the right thing, every bit of information we can get helps!
Another great step to take after your meeting is writing a letter to the editor. We have a helpful tool to make it easy for you to submit them to all of your local papers, and your representative’s definitely pay attention to what is being said! We’d also love to know how things went, let us know here!
We know meeting with your representatives can be a scary idea, but it’s so important in convincing them that their constituents are concerned about nuclear weapons problems, and want something done. Thank you for taking the plunge!