This week, the Senate came close to voting on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a new but largely unchanged version of the monstrous AHCA bill that passed the House last month. With the vote delayed until after the July 4th recess, we have additional time to help our clients bring more people into this fight. And no matter what happens with health care, there will be more reactionary policy coming out of Washington under this administration.
So how do we fight bills like this?
At Blue State, we build and mobilize communities to take actions that help produce policy change. Again and again, we’ve seen extraordinary numbers of ordinary citizens embrace the idea that seemingly small acts of advocacy — statements on social networks, calls to Congress, attendance at town halls — can produce outsized political outcomes.
On the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, 5.2 million people participated in Women’s Marches — the single biggest set of protests in American history. People are hungry to participate, and we’re helping our clients reflect this part of their supporters’ public identities.
There are two sides to driving grassroots advocacy: telling the right stories to convince people the fight is worth fighting, and getting people to take action. The key is to engage supporters as smart, intelligent advocates and marry that with clever creative that stands out.
The advocacy process itself is fairly straightforward:
Give your audience the context they’ll need for the action you’re going to ask them to take.
Advocacy can’t just be about facts — this isn’t Debate Club. You’ve got to tap into people’s emotions and inspire them to act. Highlight the human stakes: the lives that will be changed by the policy at hand.
When it’s go time, we tell our audience precisely what we want them to do and how to do it. Whether it’s getting out the vote or contacting members of Congress, we make it as easy and clear as possible for citizens to take the action at hand.
But for this process to work, your creative also needs to resonate. Our approach: start with an understanding of how the issue fits into the busy lives of supporters and how a campaign’s priorities fit into an increasingly competitive advocacy landscape.
Trust your supporters:
The first lesson is a little counter-intuitive: Get in the weeds. Explain process. Your creative can’t always be dry and academic, but people need to feel like they actually know what’s going on.
Listen to your community and report back:
Your audience is likely already invested in the issue at hand, so ask them what they think! Share what you hear back to your community so that your audience knows they’re being heard.
Use the voice of your supporters:
Sometimes, you need to turn off that spigot of messages from the organization and let your supporters do the talking. Amplify the voices of audience members who have their own relevant stories to tell.
Show collective impact:
People want to feel like they’re not in the fight alone, like they’re part of a winning team. Show your audience the progress you’re all making together.
Communications programs alone aren’t going to defeat regressive right-wing policies — you need the right tools to effectively mobilize your community over the long term and track what’s working. That’s why we built the BSD Tools and CallOut: to make actions real, tangible, and as simple as possible for clients to implement, and for constituents to take. These tools also give organizations efficient ways to measure the effectiveness of their organizing strategies, and quickly pivot if something isn’t working.
We’re putting these steps into action to help multiple clients fight the BCRA as we speak — and we’re sharpening our tools for what comes next.
Need some help fighting your good fight? Get in touch with us.