What? Me lobby?
While it is no secret that I’m a political junkie from way back, the thought of taking to Capitol Hill with a mission and talking points has never, ever entered my mind. Advocate with my words on paper and online? Any day of the week! But when I left the world of law, I thought I had given up using my in-person advocacy skills for good (I call myself a ‘recovering attorney’ for a reason!)
But how do you say ‘no’ when someone asks you to meet with your lawmakers on behalf of children who are on the brink of death because their village has no food? How do you turn down an opportunity to be someone who goes to bat for children who need the vaccines that we take for granted when it comes to our own kids?
The reason I’m writing about this, though, has more to do with having to confront my own insecurities about getting back on that advocacy horse. You see, that’s what I did for close to 15 years as as an attorney. And while the courtrooms of television dramas may seem glamorous, let me tell you that in real life there’s no glamour there. What you do get is a lot of conflict, tension, yelling, churning stomachs and headaches. (Apologies to those of you who love to practice law. No offense intended).
Who needs that level of anxiety in their life? Not me! Things are comfortable here in the blogosphere. Sure, people disagree with me and sometimes comments that people leave may be less than civil, but why get back into the ring of arguing in real life to make a point?
As I struggled with whether I should take on the challenge of being a lobbyist for a day, I realized I’ve gotten a little too comfortable with comfortable.
So with the help of amazing women like Emily McKhann from The Motherhood and Lindsay Maines of Rock and Roll Mama, who’ve seen first-hand the African families who benefit from American foreign aid programs, we had some amazing discussions with a variety of lawmakers and their staffs to discuss these issues that really resonated for us. My nerves were on high alert, but it was amazing to realize the power a single, in-person meeting can have on policymakers.
For all of us who participated, the highlight of the event, regardless of our political party affiliation, was a meeting with Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (who I accidentally called “Speaker” even though she’s no longer Speaker of the House. I’m guessing she didn’t mind). The woman who is ostensibly the most powerful woman in the country made time (it was much more than a photo op) for a group of bloggers who wanted to discuss an important issue. Plus, she offered snacks.
So next time you’re in the shadow of the nation’s capital, think about stopping by the office of your Congressman or Senator to have a quick chat about an issue important to you. It will matter more than you think.
Joanne Bamberger writes the blog PunditMom, and is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (on sale now at Amazon!), a bipartisan look at how women online are changing the world.