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Communicating with Congress: An Overview

Despite the image presented in the movies, good lobbying is not buttonholing legislators and stuffing their pockets with money. Nor is lobbying the process of swapping votes, buying influence, or making threats. Good lobbying is simply good communication.

Communicating with lawmakers is quite easy. The goods news is that they want to hear from you, particularly if you speak for your employees. You are a constituent (a voter!), and they want to know how they can best serve you (and get your support in the next election.)

The bad news is that there are plenty of others who are seeking to communicate with our elected leaders as well. Dispelling misinformation and competing for attention are two of the challenges we face in communicating with Congress and the state legislatures.

Legislators at all levels are often asked to vote for legislation they do not understand, don’t have time to read, or are not properly briefed about. The volume and complexity of the legislation they are asked to vote on is more than most individuals can grasp. Your legislator must rely on their staff and people like you to supply the information he or she needs to make good decisions.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and in politics, a vacuum is always filled by your opponents. The Sugar Cartel, for example, has deluged Congress for decades with propaganda about the need to continue their privileges. The message they communicate is clear and concise – “Maintain our existing price support!” Congress has not heard our voice to the extent it should.

In today’s competitive political environment, our voice must be heard in Congress and in our state legislatures. Those who wait on the sidelines of politics, both during elections and afterwards, will have little to say in public policy. Decisions made in Washington and in the state capitols will affect who you hire, how much you pay them, what you can charge for your products, how much you will pay your suppliers, the quality of transportation you use to ship your goods, the taxes you pay, and literally hundreds of other facets of your business. We can’t afford to be mute; the candy industry must speak out.

Use the items in the Related Content Box to learn more about the ways you can communicate with legislators, or read additional information to help you Understand the Legislative Process.