Politics and Grassroots, Tech

Girls gone civic

In news from last last week, here are two college-age women in a dorm room with a video camera who got the attention of a Senator:

Sure, it may give the feeling of being a “staged reality” video, but it’s one way to make the “take action” tab on an advocacy campaign website a little more effective.  If you browse through advocacy campaign sites, you see these tabs frequently: the “take action” button that lets you put in your zip code and send an email message to your representative on Capitol Hill.  It’s easy to do – and the people in charge of reading the messages know it’s easy, because they get hundreds of thousands of them each day.  Sometimes there are also options to call, but consultants don’t like those options because calls are hard to track and don’t offer obvious, easy sharing on Facebook and Twitter to make a cause go viral.

The dirty little secret of the “take action” tab is that most Members of Congress – or, more accurately, their staff members in charge of answering constituent concerns – don’t care about your emails because they can’t – they simply don’t have the time to respond to one-click activism.  Phone calls get more attention (and in-person meetings are the best), but many folks are intimidated at the idea of dealing directly with a Congressional office.

Whether or not this video was actually a set-up by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (which obviously, from the video opposes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) it’s a good model for other issue campaigns to actually show people taking action.

The heroines, Lauren and Ellie, lead by example and make the call to lower the intimidation factor.  Then they gather friends and get them to call. And by posting their call on YouTube, Lauren and Ellie prompted a response from Senator Michael Bennett – elevating their involvement from one-on-one communication between a constituent and a representative to a public discourse in the virtual town square.

Best of all, the video not only promotes more effective activism, but makes phone calls a viral tactic as well.  Just scroll down the video’s YouTube page and check out the response videos where people show themselves calling their own representatives in Congress.

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