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CD #56 Talking Points and Advocacy Approaches

  • 1.  CD #56 Talking Points and Advocacy Approaches

    Posted Jun 29, 2021 12:54 PM

    Dear colleagues,


    I wanted to follow up on CD #56 and share my rationale for moving to refer to the Committee on Legislation (CoL). This work has been happening behind the scenes since the Biden administration began. We are likely just a few months out from seeing movement on this issue. The Public Policy and Advocacy office can always answer questions about strategic work going on behind the scenes. All you have to do is ask.


    The second item I wish to share is an excerpt from my book about political advocacy. I have been working in state and federal legislative advocacy for over 20 years, and my experience is that advocacy is a long game, and sustained change takes time. The vast majority of advocacy work is done behind the scenes, in conversations and discussions and in coalition with allied organizations. Think of it like a really long chess match ��


    CD #56 Motion to Refer Talking Points


    • The public policy issue is to release LC from the Congressional guidance and not to change the subject heading directly. LC can't act until they get word from Congress.
    • From 2017-2020, the national environment for immigration was extraordinarily divisive. No progress was possible.
    • Now with the political changes, there is opportunity in 2021. Congress and the White House are under Democratic control but the margins are razor thin. Paths forward must be carefully considered and strategic. 
    • The best strategy is a quiet approach. if significant political capital on Capitol Hill needs to be expended, this issue will be shelved. We cannot burn bridges.
    • Congressional staff were receptive and suggested the quietest possible approach. This is now in process and will likely be addressed in a few months.
    • If this approach does not work, then we can re-evaluate our strategy.


    Political Advocacy for School Librarians: Leveraging Your Influence (Ewbank, 2019, Libraries Unlimited, pp.8-9)


    1. Credibility comes first and reputation is everything. Elected officials and their staff depend on political advocates for accurate information. Misleading an elected official or his or her staff will guarantee failure and sever the relationship with that individual. Furthermore, everyone will find out and it will become very difficult to be an effective political advocate. This ethic of trust is paramount.


    1. Only the facts count. It is important to separate facts from rhetoric when speaking to policymakers or their staff.


    1. Try not to burn your bridges. Henry Kissinger famously said, "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests" (D'Souza 2015). The same holds true for political advocacy. You may find yourself advocating for school libraries with someone who does not hold the same opinions on other political matters. It is important that differences be put aside in the interest of the shared goal.


    1. Success equals compromise. In 1867, German statesman Otto von Bismarck stated that "politics is the art of the possible" (Steinberg 2011). It is likely that you will need to compromise when advocating for school library issues.


    1. Create a dependency. Think of the relationship between you and the policymaker as mutually beneficial. For example, politicians rely on good press to bolster their re-electability. When a policymaker makes decisions that are beneficial to school libraries based on your advocacy, ensure that the policymaker can also receive a benefit as a result.


    1. Work with whomever will help. Coalitions are an important strategy in political advocacy. You may find individuals or organizations that share common interests. It is important to work with them, even if you disagree with other positions they may hold. In order to advance school libraries, work with anyone who agrees with your issue. The Interest Group Society (2018, 6th Edition, Berry & Wilcox, pp. 134-139).


    Take care,





    Many Indigenous peoples, including the Apsáalooke (Crow), Niimiipuu (Nez Perce), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Lakota), Piikani (Blackfeet), Seliš (Salish), Sosori' Newe (Shoshone) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Northern Cheyenne), have traditional claims to the lands upon which Montana State University (MSU) physically sits. Indigenous histories and perspectives are centered in my work.

    Ann Dutton Ewbank, PhD
    Associate Professor and Department Head
    Department of Education
    College of Education, Health and Human Development
    Montana State University
    (406) 994-5788