A Citizen's Guide to Politics in America: How the System Works & How to Work the System

By Barry R. Rubin | Go to book overview

12
Issues and Advocacy
Strategies for the
Twenty-First Century

The science and art we have been exploring is issue advocacy. Too often, however, issue advocates function as passive issue managers, waiting for issues to appear on their radar screens and then devising appropriate strategies to deal with them. They become reactive, only recognizing an issue so late in its life cycle that they have few options and limited opportunities to influence its course. On issue after issue, they are forced to play defense and catch-up. Success is too often defined as "minimizing one's losses."

Instead, issue advocates should take control of the agenda, identifying issues early in their life cycles and planning their campaigns while the opposition is still celebrating its victory (or licking its wounds) from the last campaign. As discussed in chapter 2, a relatively modest amount of resources can have a dramatic effect on an issue if it is applied early in the issue's life cycle, before public opinion is fully formed, opposing coalitions are built, grassroots and lobbying campaigns begin, and decision makers line up to declare their support or opposition.

Effective issue advocacy requires constant vigilance and foresight. Advocates need to use every tool at their disposal to anticipate the

-228-

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A Citizen's Guide to Politics in America: How the System Works & How to Work the System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Change is in the Air 3
  • 2 - The Anatomy of an Issue Campaign 13
  • 3 - Issues and Interest Groups 26
  • 4 - Targets of Opportunity: Issue Arenas 43
  • 5 - Understanding and Influencing Public Opinion 65
  • 6 - Information and Persuasion 81
  • 7 - Media Advocacy 103
  • 8 - Finding Strength in Numbers: Building and Managing Coalitions 131
  • 9 - Persuading Decision Makers 149
  • 10 - Grassroots Mobilization 182
  • 11 - Initiatives and Referenda: the Public Takes Charge 213
  • 12 - Issues and Advocacy Strategies for the Twenty-First Century 228
  • Notes 257
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 279
  • About the Author *
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