You, as an individual, can influence the course of legislation and other government action. The single most important viewpoint, in the minds of many legislators, is that of their constituents. The reason is simple: to remain in office, legislators must satisfy their constituents. And indeed, elected officials want to a good job representing the interests and views of those they are elected to serve. They value the input of their informed and concerned constituents.
While the ASCLS staff can open doors, argue persuasively on our behalf and inform members of Congress about issues and impact on their constituents, only constituents (you!) in a representative’s district or a senator’s state can convincingly persuade their legislator that they should support or oppose any particular issue or action. It is, therefore, critically important that legislators hear from their own constituents about the issues that are pertinent to clinical laboratory practice and to the society.
Individually composed letters, emails and phone calls from constituents are important influences on how a legislator votes. Communications from individual citizens can be more important than network news coverage, professional lobbyists’ visits and even the analyses of the legislature’s own research agencies in determining how a legislator decides to vote. On many issues, even a small number of constituents advocating a position can have an effect. It is often said that a “single letter from a constituent can ‘make a difference’”. A rule of thumb used by many legislators is that one letter or phone call from a constituent reflects the similar views of 500 other constituents who didn’t take the time to communicate.
If you participate in “grassroots” advocacy, you can – and will – make a difference!