Our goal to amend the U.S. Constitution to restore our democracy is a long-term campaign that will require the support of a large number of legislators and because large corporations will resist. Most people will support our efforts if we reach out to them, but this fight will take coordinated outreach to elected officials and candidates to build support for the We the People Amendment.
This Volunteer Kit provides guidance and resources for new and seasoned grassroots leaders on how to:
- Educate & lobby elected officials and candidates running for local, state, and federal office
- Develop materials & talking points to educate elected officials about our campaign
- Organizing phone banking & meetings with elected representatives to get support for MTA resolutions & WTP Amendment
- Recruit & train volunteers in our campaign demands & lobbying skills
The Path to the 28th Amendment
We believe the demand for an amendment must come from a mass movement that is broad, deep, conscious and educated. So our strategy aims to help nurture and build such a movement that crosses race, generational, and class lines so we are powerful enough to pass the 28th Amendment.
The Constitution’s Article V provides for 2 paths in the amendment process:
- 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress (or 290 House Representatives, 67 Senators) make a proposal
- 2/3 of the state legislatures (34 states) call a constitutional convention (aka an Article V Convention).
In either scenario, ratification will require 3/4 of the states (38 states) must vote to adopt the proposed amendment for it to become law, which can be done through state legislatures OR through state conventions (i.e., direct votes by the people). Therefore, in order to succeed, we must mobilize people across the country to put pressure on their elected officials. Effective local organizing is vital to our success.
For information on Move to Amend's strategy for passing the We the People Amendment, read Move to Amend's Ten-Year Strategic Plan.
For information on Move to Amend's position on an Article V Convention, read our longer article on the issue.
Educating & Lobbying Your Legislators
Amending the constitution will require action from state legislators, and most likely federal legislators as well. Educating the public and passing local resolutions are your first priorities, but you may want to consider lobbying as well.
Many people react negatively to the idea of lobbying since they associate it with powerful corporations and other "special interests". However, lobbying is simply the act of educating an elected official and urging him or her to take a particular action.
Lobbying is a valuable skill, and one often underutilized by local grassroots organizations. Lobbying is a form of advocacy directed at influencing the actions of elected officials. Your elected officials are in office to represent you, their constituents. It is their job to listen to your concerns and to take them into account when making decisions. However, elected officials are not mind-readers -- you must tell them what you want them to do. Lobbying is how you do that.
Whether we're meeting in-person or calling over the phone, we use lobbying to:
- Educate our legislators about corporate constitutional rights and money in politics
- Identify whether they are a supporter of Move to Amend, an opponent, or undecided
- Move supporters to become champions, or undecided individuals to become supporters
- Soften or neutralize our opponents
You can ask state legislators to sponsor (or at least vote for) a resolution calling for a constitutional convention, and federal legislators to propose (or at least vote for) the actual amendment. It is a useful tool for organizations working for the public good.
Check out these helpful resources to become acquainted with what to ask for:
- We the People Amendment (House Joint Resolution 48)
- Amendment Comparison (check to see if they have co-sponsored any of these competing resolutions.)
- How Corporate Constitutional Rights Harm You, Your Family, Your Community, Your Environment, and Your Democracy
- What Could Change if Corporate Personhood Were Abolished?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Coporate Personhood Talking Points
Writing & Calling Your Legislators
You can also lobby through letters, postcards or calling campaigns. These methods have the advantage of not requiring people to be in the same place as the legislator. If you can organize a large number of constituents to write or call, legislators will take notice.
Bird-dogging Your Candidates & Legislators
The term "bird-dog" comes from hunting; the bird-dog's job is to flush the birds out of the bushes and into the open. Politicians are like the birds--they try to keep their positions hidden behind vague rhetoric. Bird-dogging is a tactic where we go to where the candidates and elected officials are and get them on record answering our questions about the issues that matter to us. The goals of bird dogging are to:
- Educate the candidate
- Educate the public and media
- Make the candidate make a public comment about our issue
- Gather video content to use as leverage on social media and in person to get them to do what we want
When birddogging a candidate or elected official you’ll have a very short amount of time to get across your question in an effective way. Using tightly crafted questions, the successful bird-dog forces candidates to reveal their position on an issue.
- How to Build Birddogging Questions/ Sample Questions
- Tips for Birddogging Candidates & Elected Officials
- Worksheet: Recipe for a Good Birddogging questions
Meeting Your Legislators
One way to lobby your legislators is to meet with them.
You can set up a meeting either in their place of work or their district office when they are home between legislative sessions. To request a meeting, call or email their office. Every office differs in their preferred scheduling process, so ask which process to use. Give your name, your organization, and explain why you want to meet with the legislator. Be persistent if you don't get a response!
- Move to Amend's Lobbying Guide
- How to Meet Your Representatives in District
- Lobbying Tips and Hints from Jim Price (conference call trainer)
- Sample Letter Meeting Request with Representatives (2017)
Move to Amend Lobby Packet
When meeting with your legislators, we recommend you put together a folder with the following printed materials to leave with the legislator or staffer (ideally both -- bring a couple copies in case you meet with both staff and the Representative):
- We the People Amendment Language
- Dear Colleague Letter from Lead Sponsor Pramila Jayapal -- coming soon
- How Corporate Constitutional Rights Harms You, Your Family, Your Community, Your Environment, and Your Democracy
- Why Non Profit Corporations Do Not Need (or Have) Constitutional Rights
- Talking Points on Corporate Constitutional Rights
- Talking Points for Conservatives
- List of Move to Amend Petition Signers in Congressional District (This information can be provided by MTA National by request if we have enough notice)
- If you need this information, please provide ALL zip codes in their district at least ONE WEEK in advance to compile a list of names. Click here to search your congressional district.
- We will send you a PDF and you will need to print it -- please note this could be hundreds of pages. Let us know well in advance if you see the printing as being problematic for you.
Here are optional materials you can add to the packet that will help further educate the legislator and their staff:
- The We the People Amendment: The Constitutional Amendment to Counter Political Corruption and the Corporate Hijacking of the Constitution (Move to Amend white paper)
- Move to Amend Strategic Plan
- Timeline of Personhood Rights and Powers
- The Myths of Harmful "Unintended Consequences" of Abolishing Corporate Personhood
- Move to Amend Materials -- if you'd like to include a brochure in the packet, or wear matching buttons or get professionally printed stickers for the front of your packets, those can be ordered here.
Passing Local Resolutions
We encourage all local organizations to consider working to pass resolutions in support of amending the constitution in their local communities. This is a great way to educate the public and to send a strong signal to legislators that people care about these issues. The ways in which you can pass a resolution will depend on the laws in the state and locality where you live.
- How to Pass Local Resolutions
- Model Resolution for Legislative Bodies (City Council, County Board, etc)
- Model Resolution for Ballot Initiatives
- List of Resolutions in Support
Collaborate with Endorsing Organizations
One way to influence future legislators is through the questionnaires and interviews that many organizations use when deciding which candidates to endorse. Find out if organizations that support your efforts or are part of your coalition endorse candidates running for state or federal office, and encourage them to include questions about undoing Corporate Personhood and amending the Constitution.
This sends a signal to candidates that their position on these issues may determine their endorsements, and also allows you to hold them accountable once elected if they fail to follow through on their promises.
Below are informative resources for how to talk about Move to Amend and the We the People Amendment with candidates & elected officials:
- Churches Endorsing Move to Amend: 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status Impacts and Limitations
- Some Questions and Answers for "America’s Businesspeople About the Amendment"
- Side-by-Side Comparison: Move to Amend's We The People Amendment, (HJR 48) and the Democracy for All Amendment (HJR 2)
- Side-by-Side Comparison: Move to Amend's We The People Amendment, (HJR 48) and HJR 57, Rep. Adam Schiff’s Amendment
Videos & Webinars
Below are additional trainings on how to engage in lobbying & birddogging for the We the People Amendment:
- #BirddogToAmend webinar! (October 2019)
- Special Guest Presentation: Birddogging Presidential Candidates and Beyond! (August 2019)
- How to Support the We The People Amendment in Congress (April 2019)
- How to Get Your Reps to Co-Sponsor HJR 48 (May 2017)
- Legal Implications of 28th Amendment (Aug 2012)
- Taking Advantage of an Election Year Webinar (Oct 2011)