When we started distributing quarterly legislative updates earlier this year, we knew we were taking a bit of a risk. In many of our battles, our opposition is larger and much better funded. And as some members pointed out, our lobbying results have been mixed, yielding more lost opportunities than victories.
But sometimes progress is incremental. Our impact compounds from year to year, and a bill that didn’t pass in one session, may go through in the next because of our earlier efforts. In the end, we decided the organization as a whole would benefit from a transparent accounting of results.Not only is it good to take stock of how we’re doing, it’s important for NMA members to understand the scope of our activity in their areas. We practice a grassroots business model, and that means we rely on our members to get involved at the state and local levels. We simply don’t have the clout of a group like the NRA where any statement from the organization immediately influences the positions of many politicians. But, that’s what we’re working toward. We won’t meet that goal without your help. Here are a few simple ways you can spread the NMA message and stand up for your driving rights at the same time:
- When you receive a NMA email alert, take a moment to follow up as described in the alert—typically a quick email note or phone call to a key policymaker is all that’s needed.
- Write a letter (yes, a real, old-fashioned letter) to your legislators about a motorists’ issue you feel passionately about. NMA Founder Jim Baxter knew the power of the pen and offered some valuable tips and insights here. Next, repurpose that missive into a letter to the editor for your local newspaper. Again, Jim provided some words of wisdom on that. (Our website containsposition papers and fact sheets covering all of our issues. We’ve provided them specifically for you to use when stating your case.)
- Meet with your representative. Believe it or not, legislators do want to hear from constituents and will take the time to speak with you. Briefly state your concerns and tell them what you want them to do. If you want to address a specific bill, read up on it and reference it by number.
- Attend council meetings and legislative hearings to speak up on issues that impact your driving rights. Don’t be shy. Many of these sessions receive media coverage so you may have a chance to leverage your appearance into a favorable story.
- Meetings and hearings are also great places to meet likeminded people. Joining with others increases your clout. Use Facebook and online petitions to build community support and grab the attention of policymakers. When support for a key issue reaches critical mass, policymakers will pay attention.
- Contact the NMA to get more involved. We can get you in touch with your state activist or tell you how to become one yourself. Let us know what motorists’ issues are bubbling up in your area. We can help by informing other members about what’s going on publicizing the issue with the media.
The NMA is able to wage the necessary battles to protect drivers’ rights through the continuing support of our membership. Every $35 annual supporting membership, every membership upgrade and every donation is vitally important to us. Thank you.