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Policy Arguments. Framing the Debate Using Power. Analysis of Presentation. Did Walter make a persuasive argument? What other information would you have liked from Walter? Was his presentation effective? Why or Why not?. Much of political speech is focused on:.

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Policy Arguments

Framing the Debate

Using Power

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Analysis of Presentation

  • Did Walter make a persuasive argument?

  • What other information would you have liked from Walter?

  • Was his presentation effective?

    Why or Why not?

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Much of political speech is focused on:

  • Energizing or mobilizing supporters.

  • Persuading the general public or opponents.

  • Marginalizing opponents who can not be persuaded.

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Political Speech Relies On:

  • Framing arguments in a way that persuades individuals that the proposal is fair or in their own best interest.

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Types of Policy Arguments (Dunn, 1983)

  • Authoritative (based on status of decision-maker; knowledge or information held by the decision-maker). Example: elected official, scientist, or other expert.

  • Intuitive (based on personal insight of decision-makers)

  • Analycentric ( use of scientific or mathematical rules guided the decision) Example: cost-benefit analysis; lowest cost of bid to provide government services.

  • Explanatory (arguments from cause or theories)

  • Pragmatic (arguments from motivation, parallel cases, or analogy). Examples: motivation based on wanting to achieve goals, assumptions about the similarities of two or more policy cases)

  • Value-critical (based on arguments from ethics – perceptions about the good or badness of a policy)

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Policy Claims

  • Policy claims are the conclusions of policy arguments.

  • Policy claims can be based on:

    1) Facts

    2) Value or Effectiveness of the Policy

    3) Action (Which policy option should be adopted?).

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Examples of Framing Policy Arguments

  • Animal Rights or Support for No-kill shelters: fuzzy animals; portrayals of animals being harmed.

  • Support for anti-poverty or health care legislation – people who have been harmed by inability to receive services.

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Settings or Formats Used:

  • Debates:

  • Speeches

  • Floor Debates – Congress; other government legislative bodies


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Most often you will be called upon to make a brief policy argument during a lobbying visit with a decision-maker.

  • Most policy advocates prepare a brief list of talking points for lobbying visits.

  • The information below is from: Advocacy 101: The Ins and Outs of Scheduling and Attending a Successful Congressional Visit. Prepared for families and individuals attending the Defeat Autism Now! Conference, April 20-21, 2007

  • Organizing Your Presentation and Talking Points

    Use the suggested talking points included or prepare other talking points to keep your meeting focused and to the point. When developing your talking points, be sure to think about those things that are of utmost importance and which you want brought to your Congressperson's attention. Meetings are usually 20-30 minutes, so your presentation or planned talking points should not be longer than 20 minutes to allow time for questions.

  • For a truly successful meeting to take place, the following tactics should also be employed:

  • Decide on your one ASK for each meeting.

  • Develop your message for the ASK and limit yourself to three key points that need to be made; more than that and you may lose focus.

  • Decide who in your group will share their personal story about how autism affects their life. The personal story is important to show just how this issue affects their constituents, but remember to keep an eye on the time and limit this part of the discussion in order to make sure you have time to share other information and to make your ASK.

  • Bring a notepad to take notes on points that are discussed, as well as a digital camera to take pictures with your representative (see more about how pictures can be used to generate coverage in the "Securing Media Coverage" section in Appendix B).

  • Make sure you practice your presentation and can deliver it in 20 minutes.

  • Finally, prepare an information packet that includes copies of your organization's brochures, fact sheets, articles or other collateral information.

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Talking Points (continued] argument during a lobbying visit with a decision-maker.

Attending the Meeting:

  • The following points are just a few things to keep in mind once you're actually in the meeting:

  • Thank the representative for their time and introduce yourself and other members of your group.

  • Begin the conversation by sharing the personal story mentioned previously.

  • Remember that only one person should share his or her story. Sharing this personal information will help grab the Member's and the legislative assistant’s (LA) attention and will give you and your group credibility.

  • Present your three key talking points and your ASK. Explain why this ASK is important to you, your community and your organization (if you represent one).

  • If the LA responds positively to your ASK, thank them and ask how you can best follow up with them.

  • If the LA doesn't respond positively to your ASK, ask them what additional information they may need and how they might become more willing to engage on your issue.

  • Ask the LA if they have any additional questions.

  • Thank them for their time and promise to follow up.

    Following Up:

  • Remember that meeting with your representative and his or her staff is really just the first step in developing a positive, ongoing relationship. Once you return from Washington, send everyone you met a thank you note that summarizes your meeting and outlines any action steps that were promised or requested in that meeting. Maintain your relationship by adding the representative and his staff to your group's mailing list and be sure to send them relevant studies and articles as they become available. Finally, always make an effort to attend town hall meetings and/or fundraisers for your representative.

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Power is also needed to persuade opponents or marginalize them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Authority

  • Position

  • Expertise

  • Money

  • Knowledge

  • Professional Status

  • Information

  • Votes

  • Personal charisma/appearance

  • Celebrity

  • Race, ethnicity, gender, age, social class, etc.

  • Social, personal, or business connections

  • Media (mass mobilization; coalition building, lobbying campaigns, social movements)

  • Use of legal tools and procedures (such as class action law suits)

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Other Types of Power Include: them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Person – to – person power. Establishing relationships with people; recruiting friends, relatives, & neighbors.

  • Reward power – giving money, positions, campaign donations and other perks to people for their support.

  • Coercive power – threatening harm to people unless they comply (can include things like job loss, bad media coverage, “dirty politics,” or boycotting a corporation’s products and services.

  • Referent power - being associated with desirable groups that people identify with.

  • Value-based power – being able to appeal to others based on shared values or ethics.

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Power Can Be them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Actual – used to influence decisions.

  • Potential – can be acquired or flow from personal characteristics, position, or strength in numbers, but is not used.

  • Substantive – policy garners support because it is shaped in a way to appeal to the vested interest or values of potential supporters.

    (Policies can be changes to appeal to specific supporters)

  • Procedural power. Techniques used in legislative processes to limit decision-making to certain groups, cut off debate, or otherwise influence the decisions made. One example, is the 60 vote closure rule in the U.S. Senate.

  • Issues of Compliance to existing laws and procedures; whistle-blowing

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Dilemmas in Developing Power Resources: them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Some social groups have more power than others by virtue of their position in society.

  • Members of marginalized groups often have few power resources (money, vote less often, limited access to powerful decision-maker, etc).

  • However, they do have strength in numbers (letter writing campaigns, rallies, participation in social movements; civil disobedience, media coverage).

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Techniques for Preparing for Lobbying them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • First, Find out who is likely to oppose or support a policy. Use:

    - Information available from legislative staff, other legislators, and advocates.

    - Information on voting records from government, advocacy groups, and political analysis web sites.

    - Media accounts or analysis of likely supporters or opponents

    - Personal knowledge about backgrounds and past behavior of decision-makers.

    - Examining campaign contributions to find out what groups and individuals are likely to influence the official

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Additional Steps in Preparing for Lobbying: them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Analysis of a piece of legislation or a policy. Why is the decision-maker likely to oppose or support it? How is the legislation likely to fit his or her vested interest?

  • Developing a policy argument containing facts, data, and values that are likely to influence individual legislators. “Boiling down” the argument to a set of specific talking points that can be used in personal (one on one meetings; group meetings, testimony at public hearings, media interviews). Talking points can be used by more than one advocate and help establish consistency in getting out the message.

  • Providing assistance to decision-makers – comments on bills; actually drafting legislation, or submitting your own analysis to the legislator, providing facts that the legislator can use in developing his or her own argument; providing testimony at public hearings.

  • Establishing advocacy/lobbying networks to work in partnership with other groups and to maximize contacts and influence.

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Note on Lobbying Restrictions them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Federal and state lobbyists often provide gifts and other perks to legislators in exchange for their votes.

  • These gifts are restricted at Federal and state levels.

  • Laws prevent nonprofit organizations and government staff members from working for candidates during work hours. Nonprofit organizations may not make campaign donations (except for proposition campaigns in California).

  • Nonprofit organizations incorporated under 501c 3 of the tax code may only use a limited amount of their funds (less than 20%) to do any kind of lobbying.

  • Nothing prohibits government or nonprofit employees from campaigning for candidates “off the job.”

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Class Exercise them. Power is especially important in lobbying: Sources of power include:

  • Form a group of 4-5 people.

  • Select a policy issue identified in the Assignment #2s that have been handed back.

  • Prepare a set up talking points that could be used to persuade a politician to support your point of view on this issue. Use these guidelines:

  • Decide on your one ASK for the meeting.

  • Develop your message for the ASK and limit yourself to three key points that need to be made.

  • Decide who in your group will share their personal story the policy affects their life..