“Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some
perfectly contented class of the community and sow seeds of discontent among them.
That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary.
Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance toward civilization.”
Or, what is advocacy and why should I care?
Government affects practically every part of your life – the quality of the air you breathe, the safety of your car, the taxes you pay, the quality of your child’s education, and more. Did you know that there are state employees who check to be sure that when you buy a pound of potato salad or a gallon of gas, that you are really getting a full pound or a full gallon? Government’s role in health care is enormous – from setting staffing levels at hospitals and nursing homes, licensing doctors and nurses, funding community health clinics, monitoring ambulance services, oversight of HMOs, putting fluoride in the water, to spraying for mosquitoes for West Nile Virus.
It’s actually a lot easier than anyone knows to influence government policies, especially health policy. A great deal of the decisions about your health care are made at the state level, and three or four calls to a State Senator on an issue is an avalanche. Many bills happen because one motivated informed citizen had an honest, persuasive conversation with a legislator. Happens all the time.
And, believe it or not, legislators WANT to hear from you. They can’t read your mind and they much prefer a conversation before a vote to an angry call afterwards (or a vote against them on Election Day). That’s not a promise that they will do what you ask, but they will listen. It is their job.
If you think that you don’t know enough about the issue to make a call, you couldn’t be more wrong. You know enough to be angry. You know your own experience, your family’s, friends’ and neighbors’ experiences. That’s plenty. You will never know everything there is to know, especially about something as complicated as health care. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer to a question, and far better than making one up. Very few people are swayed by statistics alone. Just tell your story – you are the expert on your story.