It’s About Bringing Your Congress Back Home, Citizens! by Ralph Nader

Washington DC - Capitol Building

Image by Daniel Huizinga via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
May 3, 2017

The large marches, in Washington, DC and around the country, calling attention to importance of science and focusing on the calamitous impacts of climate change had impressive turnouts. But the protests would have been more productive if they concentrated more – in their slogans and signs – on 535 politicians to whom we have given immense power to influence policies relating to those issues, for ill or for good.

I’m speaking of Congress.

Congress cannot be ignored or neglected simply because we know it to be a corporate Congress, or a gridlocked Congress, or a Congress that is so collectively delinquent, or perk and PAC addicted, or beholden to commercial interests, or self-serving through gerrymandered electoral districts where they, through their party’s controlled state government, pick the voters to elect them.

Sure, there are probably 100 good legislators on Capitol Hill. But many of these progressive elected officials fail to effectively network with citizen groups, or organize left-right coalitions back home into an unstoppable political force. Issues that invite such left/right consensus are numerous, including raising the federal minimum wage, protecting civil liberties, tackling government waste and corruption, advancing solar energy, reforming the corporate tax system, full Medicare for all (with free choice of doctor and hospital) and a crackdown on corporate crime and abuses against consumers, workers and communities. Polls show big majorities behind these and other much needed redirections and reforms.

All these improvements in the lives of all Americans have to go through Congress. Sure, some efforts can be partially achieved by self-help and state/local governments. But for a national, comprehensive change movement, it is the Congress, which must be effectively and forcefully instructed to act in the public interest.

The big business lobbies haven’t given up on Congress, have they? They’re swarming over the Senators and Representatives to get the power we’ve given these lawmakers regularly deployed on the behalf of the crassest, most avaricious and harmful demands of the business bosses.

The most successful “citizen lobbies” focused on Congress do not bother with major marches and demonstrations. Groups like the NRA and AIPAC focus, with laser-beam precision, on each member of Congress. They know their background, their strengths and weaknesses, their key advisors and friends back home, their physicians, their lawyers and accountants, the social clubs they belong to, the kinds of hobbies and vacations they pursue. The NRA and AIPAC advocates personally know the lawmakers’ staff, sources of their campaign contributions, their concerns about possible primary challengers, what kinds of well-paying positions members of Congress seek after retirement or defeat.

With this face-to-face lobbying, threats of primary challenges and ample campaign contributions, these groups have gotten their way in Congress to an amazing degree, given their relatively small numbers of supporters.

Here is some advice: Get to know your two Senators and Congressperson personally and on your terms. It’s easier to do this with a comprehensive agenda of long-overdue reforms which can give you broad-based left/right support in your state. Then issue a formal Summons (a draft is in my new paperback, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think) for your Senators and Representatives to attend YOUR town meeting on YOUR agenda of changes and advances.

Every Congressional District has about 700,000 men, women and children. Most Districts have community colleges and/or universities. All have the necessary one percent of serious citizens working together to focus majority opinion directly on members of Congress. Often what is required is less than one percent, or say 2,000 people, working collectively as Congressional Watchdogs for 5 to 10 hours a week and raising enough money for two full time offices each with two staff.

The fruits of such efforts are numerous and immensely important to our country, our children and their children, not to mention the world.

To expedite and increase the ratios of success, such Congressional Watchdog organizations require study, discussions, and some training sessions with easily available material in bookstores or on the Internet. Just consider how much serious input goes into hobbies by millions of Americans all the time. Consider participating in this very important “civic hobby” achieving a better life for the people with “liberty and justice for all.”

from the archives:

Trump’s Hundred Days of Rage and Rapacity by Ralph Nader + Nader Accepts Gandhi Peace Award: All Wars Are Preventable

Ralph Nader: Corporate Crime, Corporate Violence, Corporate Welfare, and Corporate Regulations

The Answer Is: Medicare for All

Chris Hedges: The Dysfunctional U.S. Health Care System Can Be Fixed + Republicans Lead In Obamacare Replacement, Act Now by Margaret Flowers

Ralph Nader: The Biggest Divide And Rule Tactic Is The Constant Drumbeat That We Are Highly Polarized

Ralph Nader: The Road to Corporate Fascism (must-see)

12 thoughts on “It’s About Bringing Your Congress Back Home, Citizens! by Ralph Nader

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  4. I gave the loses, decline of sales, for Coke and McDonald’s as two examples of corporations taking hits. Can you give me any other example of results against the corprocracy? What has Nader achieved in his decades of protests?

  5. Trying to make changes through Congress is like trying to wake a dead cat with the smell of fish. Nader said himself that it’s a corporate congress. Why take the long way around? Deprive corporations of profits by boycotting their products whereever possible.

    • It has to be a nationwide, organized boycott. I’ve been boycotting corporations for a very, very long time and they are still quite profitable. It takes more than just one or a few people to boycott successfully.

      • Of course boycotts work best the more people that are involved. Coca-cola and McDonalds are already losing profits. How do we get to a nationwide level if not by engaging as many people as possible. One at a time. Brick by brick, step by step. All of us. We are the organization!

        • I do agree with you, Fantelius. I’m just saying that to be more successful a boycott should be organized on a nationwide basis. Otherwise, it just takes a very long time if ever to make a dent in their profits.

        • No, of course not. Each of us has to decide to take action. I’m just saying that I’ve done this for a very long time with no results to speak of. And of course, I will continue to do so.

  6. 100 good Members of Congress? No way! For example, there are no peace advocates in the Senate, and only a handful in the House.

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