Common Cause's Guide to Citizen Action
Have you ever wondered 'what good can one person possibly do?'
Common Cause was built on the belief that individuals working together can change the world.
Since 1970, Common Cause members have lobbied Members of Congress for reforms that put the public interest ahead of the special interests. Our successes have come from persistence and the strength of unified citizen voices.
This online activist toolkit will show you how one person can work to reform government.
How to Lobby
Letters, emails, telephone calls, faxes and face-to-face meetings with your Members of Congress or their staff in local offices are effective methods of getting your opinion across. And, when time is of the essence – for example, a vote on important legislation is imminent – faxes, telephone calls or email can be nearly instant communicators.
Choose whatever option suits you best – just make sure your voice is heard. Your effort could tip the scale and help change a vote and win a crucial fight.
When to Lobby
At any point in the legislative process, Common Cause may ask you to lobby your Representative, Senators, the House and Senate leaders, or the President. There are special times when your letters and calls can be especially productive.
How Laws are Passed in Congress
Following is the typical way legislation is enacted into law, although not every bill will follow this exact route. Laws governing taxes, for instance, must always originate in the House. Most bills never become law – they either never make it out of committee, or they are stopped by a Senate filibuster, delay, lack of votes, dissention between the houses, or they are killed by a presidential veto.
10 Things You Can Do
Common Cause Founder John Gardner once said, "If citizen action is to be successful, it requires careful preparation, effective organization, and stamina. Lots and lots of stamina."
Citizens who have joined together in a common pursuit for a better government have had an extraordinary impact on our nation. And, for more than 30 years, Common Cause has helped make citizens a powerful presence on the political scene, working to give them the tools they need to play a sustained and active part in the fight for open, honest and accountable government at all levels.