“We want to see an inversion of the power structure in this country,” said Penelope Stewart of the Citizens United for Radical Justice, the primary organizers of the event, “We think annual lobby days are a crucial piece of the strategy to put state power in the hands of working people.”
“Viva La Lobby Day!”, as it was called, began early at with a variety of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts for participants to choose from and hot coffee. Many lamented the lack of bagels and fruit. “Some of us are trying to cut out white sugar,” said Reggie McDonald of Colored People for a Colored Future.
Participants in “Viva La Lobby Day!” utilized various radical lobbying techniques aimed at demonstrating the power of the coalition and creating long lasting social change. Stewart explained some of the tactics used during meetings with elected officials.
“Well, one major thing we did was create what we called ‘informational packets’ for the city council members. In these ‘info packets’ we had a cover letter explaining our campaign demands, a list of our allies, and some newspaper clippings from the New York Times,” said Stewart, “We made sure to put these packets into colorful folders we bought from Staples so the Council members could carry them around easily. Maybe read them on the subway ride home or while they are working out at the gym.”
“Another tactic we employed during the lobby visits,” said John Kavitsky, Treasurer of People for The People, “is surround the elected officials in their office and firmly ask that they sign onto a support letter before the meeting ended.”
“Some responded to this pressure. Others said that we should follow up with them. And we let them know that we definitely plan on doing that,” said Kavitsky, eyes narrowing menacingly.
After some thought, Kavistky added, “But I think the informational packets were really key to fundamentally altering the power dynamic in the room.”
The Revolutionaries found the lobby day to be a success. “We met with over 20 City Councilmembers, most of who concretely committed to review the materials we presented and follow up with us in the next few weeks,” explained Stewart, “ Did you know that follow up calls can change the world?”
Other participants, though, were not so pleased by the event. Francis Kate, co-founder of Guerillas Against Sprawl, was enraged by the absence of talking points to help guide comments and keep everyone in the lobby visit on the same message.
“It was ridiculous,” exclaimed Kate, “One person in my lobby group demanded the abolishment of state and federal governments while another argued for a centrally controlled economy. I was livid! Talking points would have been a great way to prevent this sort of confusion.”
The Council members, though, had a generally positive view of “Viva La Lobby Day!”
Councilmember Gershwin Quinn commented, “Although it was a busy day since it was also Senior Citizens Lobby Day and Bring Your Daughter to Work Day at City Hall, I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with the revolutionary left in the city. And even though I did not sign onto the support letter when they surrounded me in my office, I did agree to a follow up conference call in March.”