This is a chapter from "Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda". Originally published on December 11, 2016.
There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.
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 (MoC), you have to understand one thing: every House member runs for office every two years and every Senator runs for election every six years. Functionally speaking, MoCs are always either running for office or getting ready for their next election—a fact that shapes everything they do.
To be clear, this does not mean that your MoC is cynical and unprincipled. 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 MoCs are enormously 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 with the following narrative:
“My MoC cares about me, shares my values, and is working hard for me.”
—What every MoC wants their constituents to think
If your actions threaten this narrative, then you will unnerve your MoC and change their decision-making process.