Tips for Responding to Reluctant Advocates

“Lobbying is quite unseemly and inappropriate for a psychologist. I believe there should be a distinct line between academia and politics.” In fact, the funding that we receive (or, our students will receive to support themselves) for education/training (clinical, academic, research) is intertwined with the congressional decision-making process. We cannot afford to ignore it; we must participate — as do all the other disciplines — or be left out.
“It won't make any difference if I participate (i.e., they’re all crooks anyway, and the political process is corrupt and immoral).” Despite sensational media reports, most politicians are honest and hard working. Plus, your participation will actually help increase the accountability of your member of Congress to the community. Further, as we all know, if you want to see something change, you must get involved. Tell me about what concerns you have locally and what you hope might be done in D.C. Perhaps there may be a way to address these concerns through our lobbying efforts.
“Sorry, I think grassroots/lobbying is useless.” For an individual psychologist, it may seem useless, but we are a network — APA Federal Education Advocacy Grassroots Network. Your voice, together with many others across the nation, can make a difference.

Example: Many psychologists thought it was useless to lobby for Older Americans Act. But with the help of just a handful of psychologists, APA successfully influenced the bill's passage and gained federal support for mental/behavioral health services, including training.

You know, you might feel it is useless — but only until you have participated in grassroots advocacy. In no time, you will realize how easy it actually is.
“I’m too busy to get involved. I don’t have the time.”

“Philosophically, I differ with APA's interests so why would I spend my already-over-committed time talking to a legislator who won't listen anyway.”

“My legislator won’t listen; I can't impact legislation.”
Yes, it does require some time, but not as much as you probably expect. Most importantly, the time and energy that you do devote to our grassroots network can have a tremendous impact on your program and your students.

You might be surprised to learn what APA is doing… for example APA is working on student funding through GPE.

In fact, legislators do listen, especially to university faculty; they want to know how legislation will impact their constituents (district). They expect to hear from you; they need your input and your expertise.
“My member of Congress is a [Republican or Democrat] and I'm not going to vote for him nor get involved in fundraisers. He/she doesn't support this issue and/or psychology.” Gaining federal support of psychology is not a partisan issue; APA seeks support no matter which party is in the leadership. Getting involved is not a request for your vote or give money — only to advocate for psychology.

Even if your member of Congress isn’t supporting this issue, he/she nevertheless has a very influential role (or serves) on an important committee and it is critical that he/she hears from you — the constituent (the voter).