How to Develop a Relationship with a Legislator – to Create Change

When we are faced with so many issues, and EACH issue is so complex, it seems overwhelming to even begin trying to condense the information and science and concerns all into one paragraph.  But we have to try, because to develop a relationship with a legislator, we have to build rapport in tiny pieces.

We can take steps to build a relationship with a senator’s office, for example:

  1. Call the senator’s office and ask to speak to the staffer who handles the issues you’re concerned about.  Introduce yourself as a constituent and ask if they have a few minutes to talk (or schedule a time for a call).  Plan for no more than 5 minutes, with 2-3 key points you want to make.  Don’t try to cover more than that.
  2. Follow up with a thank you email to that staffer, and attach a short piece – just one page.   They aren’t going to watch a 24-minute you tube video.  So instead write out, in your own words, what your concerns are.   To support those concerns, you can reference the studies/scientific research, and then end with a link to a video as support – but your one-page statement needs to stand on its own.
  3. Two weeks later, email the staffer a second time.  Thank them again for their time, ask if they had a chance to review what you wrote and if they have any questions.
  4. A few weeks later, email them another short piece — perhaps a recent article, or something expanding on what you think was the most important point from your first email.

It’s going to be really tough to condense concerns to 5 minutes, or a one-page letter.  But, that’s we need to do.

The goal is to communicate three basic pieces of information:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. Why should the legislator care about it?
  3. What do you want them to do about it?

 

Here’s an example, in regards to the topic of EMFs, labeled in sections 1 – 3 as listed above

 

#1: What is the issue?

The health effects of 5G have not been properly examined, and I am worried that the FCC does not have the expertise or the political will to do the proper research.

 

#2: Why should the legislator care about it?

While there are studies that show no health effects, many (if not all) are funded by the industry.  Non-industry funded studies have found many areas of harm.  A compendium report called ‘The BioInitiative Report’, updated in December 2017 by Dr. Henry Lai, includes evidence of: damage to sperm and reproduction, fetal and neonatal effects, effects on autism, effects on the blood-brain barrier, which is being linked to a lot of neurological issues that children are having today, effects on brain tumors, genotoxicity, neurotoxicity, cancer, alzheimer’s disease, and more.  See http://www.bioinitiative.org/research-summaries/

Relying on industry-funded studies is not sufficient.  In 2018, The Nation published an investigative report called “How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe”. https://www.thenation.com/article/how-big-wireless-made-us-think-that-cell-phones-are-safe-a-special-investigation/)  What they uncovered is that back in the 1990s, the industry itself conducted their own studies, found the radiation to be carcinogenic, AND that children are more vulnerable to it. And they didn’t invoke the precautionary principle; instead they suppressed it and got the Telecom Act passed.

Harvard published a similar, but more extensive report in 2015, called “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries it Presumably Regulates,”  https://ethics.harvard.edu/news/new-e-books-edmond-j-safra-research-lab. This further details what has happened with the FCC since telecom industry leaders like Tom Wheeler took the helm, and how they have been able to establish laws that protect industry profits over public health.

 

#3: What do you want them to do about it?

Before you approve the expansion of the new 5G technology, which will expose essentially everyone to a form of radiation even if they avoid using a cell phone themselves, please take steps to ensure that qualified, unbiased experts analyze all the science. The FCC’s track record shows that the decision should not be left to this agency.

 

The System

There will be cyclical things that happen in the legislative session, so it’s important to learn at what point committees meet, who needs to be educated, and where things go from there.

Try to identify where the decisions are made, and put your energy there.

Many legislators defer to the committee chairs to make decisions, and who knows what goes on behind closed doors with power, ego and industry money.

Another hard lesson is that our public policy system is not set up with leaders who will do the right thing in a variety of cases.

The system set up to respond to what large numbers of the public are asking for; without large numbers, our legislators’ limited time and resources go to whatever the public is asking for.

It is a rare public servant who will take the bull by the horns and shake up the system.

Once you meet with a legislator’s representative in their office, they will usually give you their business card and then you’ll have a direct line of contact through which you can send emails containing links.

Public policy change is a marathon, not a sprint.  It can take time to get a meeting scheduled with your legislator, and then something, or nothing might happen.

There could be personnel changes that will have you starting from square one again.

Be polite but persistent, and don’t wait around for our public servants to act, as that can take literally years.

We need to continue to educate our federal public servants, but at the same time educate those around us at the state and local level.

We have the power to make our own changes, and then that bubbles up to policy change on the books eventually when enough citizens ask for it.

Not everyone is a change-maker.  A statistic says something like only 1 in 26 will speak up if something is wrong.  So, simply provide the information.

What folks choose to do with that is their business, but at least they have a right to know. Hopefully at some point, they’ll find the courage to take action.for themselves and their loved ones.

Psychological Barriers

Once folks learn about something, it usually takes time to get one’s head around it.  There is a phase where folks start noticing just how pervasive a problem is.  Then there’s the phase where the person faces the choice of action.  In the case of wireless technology and its biological harm — we’ve paid good money for all of our devices, and we don’t really want to ditch them.

There are many issues we don’t hear about in mainstream media… and if we do, it’s wrapped in so much industry spin that we get a false sense of security and don’t educate ourselves.

Many who work or lobby for various industries will swear up and down that their technologies or methods are safe.  These may be really smart, well-respected people — engineers, physicists, technologists — who’ve only been taught certain things.  An internet search about any issue will yield industry studies to support their beliefs, and when they check with their friends, spouse, or loved one who believes something is safe, it’s hard then not to believe that friend or spouse.

In the case of wireless technology — at the municipal and political levels, there is money to be had– free money, for putting up cell antennas on public property, as well as the prospect of more jobs, being first to market with innovation… it’s all very seductive, especially for cities and towns that could really use the money.

It’s also hard for school leaders, who have to defer to contracts being made at the state level by unwitting department of education employees. The districts are evaluated on how much they are immersing wireless technology into the classrooms, and the industry is making sweetheart deals at the state level to get a 1:1 device into the hands of all of our children.

When parents come in with information about wireless technology health risks, the school administrators aren’t sure what to do.  Their jobs are on the line: they risk a poor  evaluation if they pull back on the wireless initiatives being pushed by industry at the state level.

Because our education system is a top-down system, it is a rare administrator who will open the conversation at the state level to ask for an investigation.

It’s a delicate balance to provide the facts in a digestible way and not overwhelm, which causes folks to shut down and stick their heads in the sand.  It can also potentially mean career suicide for whistle blowers.

It’s easy and tempting to go with the flow and keep using wireless technology until a higher authority tells you not to.

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