I just celebrated the start of my 17th year in Washington, D.C. Coming here in 1997 from a pretty small town in Michigan was a little scary, but I was a political junkie and where else do you go but D.C.?
I have worked in the legislative/political world my entire career, spending years on Capitol Hill, at lobbying firms and in government relations departments. Throughout my time in D.C., I have heard many questions about how the “influence industry” works. Do money and power really run the town? Don’t Members of Congress just listen to the high-powered lobbyists and campaign contributors? If I don’t have the right kind of access, how can I make a difference?
Does the voice of regular people even matter?
I can say without a doubt that the voices of constituents, voters and taxpayers matter a lot to Members of Congress. It’s just not always easy to see. As a congressional staffer, all it would take sometimes was one powerful conversation with a child, physician, teacher or pastor from our district to convince me that my boss needed to take action on an issue. Add in a few phone calls and letters, and I would start to really take notice. Maybe my boss wouldn’t completely agree on the issue, but knowing that there were advocates in our district led to more research, conversations and attempts to find some common ground.
What can often be frustrating about advocacy is that it can take time. Change doesn’t always happen quickly. The comparison that is most apt is that of the parable of the mustard seed. Advocacy can start out small, with one voice, but slowly it will grow and more voices will be added. Soon it is a large movement that can’t be ignored.
We at World Vision hope that our Beyond 5 campaign to end preventable child deaths will grow like that mustard seed. Will you add your voice and help us build a movement to save the lives of millions of mothers and children?