Letter: Ninety years of advocacy
Lobbying vs. advocacy... What is the difference?
There is no difference and our system of government encourages it. Citizenship is more than voting. It is holding those elected, accountable. Unfortunately, when large sums of money, perks and other influences are added to it, it gets a bad name.
You and I, as individuals, or as representatives of an organization, like the League of Women Voters, can be advocates for a cause we believe in. In the form of letters, e-mails, letters to the editor, personal visits to our representative, etc. From the beginning, 90 years ago, the LWV was prepared to advocate. The reason women wanted the vote was so they could influence laws to change, in particular concerning women and children's rights, workers' rights and so on.
Over the years, through the process of learning about issues, many, many other stands on issues have evolved.
Other groups, like the Sierra Club, AARP, Public Citizen and various environmental groups advocate, but most don't study the issue like we do, and then, when consensus is arrived at, we can advocate. Every LWV member doesn't have to agree. Consensus means that most do. Members can have a different opinion, and if you do, are welcome to advocate as a person on the other side -- but not as a LWV member. League members are not clones. We hope that most members agree on most issues.
The League is respected by most representatives as a nonpartisan actor and our input is welcomed. The LWV was asked to be part of the group who activated the United Nations, for example, and even now League members are present as observers at United Nations meetings.
League meetings are open to the public. Check us out.