HOW YOU CAN INFLUENCE CONGRESS: The Complete Handbook for the Citizen Lobbyist by George & Everett Sentman Alderson

HOW YOU CAN INFLUENCE CONGRESS: The Complete Handbook for the Citizen Lobbyist

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A tome like this with its grandiose title should offer something of value, and despite some simplistic suggestions and dubious analysis, it does. Alderson, former environmental lobbyist now with the Bureau of Land Management, and ""publishing consultant"" Sentman are out to help citizens influence Congressional voting--exert influence, that is, without money. ""Big industrial lobbies and shady operators"" use money, they say, only because ""they don't have the public on their side""--an assertion they later contradict in explaining that letter-writing campaigns are safely ignored by ""those that can afford to make fat campaign contributions."" Alderson and Sentman introduce their handbook with an unilluminating day in the life of Pennsylvania's Democratic Congressman Robert Edgar; but there follow detailed sections on what happens to Congressional mail (some is handled by automatic answering machines), what to say in a letter to a Congressman (provide solid data with specific suggestions), and more. The best material concerns citizen-backed single-issue organizations--the nitty-gritty of forming ad hoc committees or coalitions, publishing newsletters, rallying support, researching issues, and approaching Congress. There is even advice on testifying before Congressional committees (""It won't be like the Watergate hearings""); and interspersed throughout are helpful bibliographic references. Nothing on the increasingly popular ballot referendums, but enough ammunition to tackle even the most obdurate legislator.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1979
Publisher: Dutton