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Chip Ahlswede
Meredith Weisel

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Do We Have The Filibuster?

So Obama and the Fast Track Trade Bill avoids a Senate Filibuster.

Here's what we are talking about if you don't know - CLICK HERE.

Now this isnt a discussion of that issue.  There are very deeply held beliefs on both sides of this issue.  What is important is how it passed the Senate and avoided a Filibuster.

Whenever these things pop up we always hear "Why do we have the Filibuster?"

Simply put, the Constitution provides for all manners of dissent to be heard.  The Filibuster is part of that.

And believe it or not despite recent issues you've heard in the news, it isn't very common.

It also always seems that the party in power wants to get rid of it, and the party that isn't loves it.  Which is also why its important not to abuse the Filibuster.

In the end, the Filibuster is an important tool to make sure the minority is heard, and that legislation isnt forced through without the consent of the people.

When I went to work on the Hill, the person who ran our orientation asked a very interesting question -

"What is the purpose of Congress?" she asked.

The half sheepish half snotty answer given typically was - "To pass laws?"

"No, the purpose of congress is to stop bad laws from getting passed."

That's why we have the Filibuster.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Deflategate and What It Means For Your Company

So yesterday Tom Brady was officially suspended for "Deflategate."

In case you don't know what it is, click here.

Without risking an impending fistfight with a Southie for having the gal to suggest Tom Brady may have done something wrong, here are some lessons to take away from this one -

  1. Dragging Things Out Hurts More Than Helps - Just like ripping off a bandaid, if there is a problem you are aware of, you should just address it and fix it rather than dance around it.  Sure you're innocent until proven guilty, but that doesn't mean you're not guilty if you actually are.
  2. Good Looks And A Winning Record Only Go So Far - Ok, deflated balls aren't quite stolen crab legs or physical assaults on your spouse, but its bad.  And just because you are insanely popular in your network.  Breaking the rules is a bad thing.  Don't expect people to be behind you just because.
  3. Influential Friends Can't Fix Everything - Yes, powerful friends can help get you out of a jam.  But don't rely on them when you're wrong.
  4. Nuance Looks Guilty - Splitting hairs on issues makes you look like you're looking to get off on a technicality.
  5. A Heartfelt Apology Is Gold - Don't let your ego get in the way of your reputation.  We all F up from time to time.  We are human.  People want to see us fall.  We are human.  People also want to feel good about forgiving you.  We are human.  So be human and make those things possible.
In the end Tom Brady will sit out a few games.  Star in some commercial or an movie teaser that makes us all like him again, and by October we will have forgotten about all of this.

The difference is we would have forgotten a month ago had this just been open from the start.  Or at least from the day after the Super Bowl.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Another trip to the Capitols

This month, I will get the opportunity to hit up my state capitol, and Washington DC.

One of the great things about working in advocacy is the ability to see what congress actually works like.  And the sad side of that is seeing how far off the general public's view of the members of congress is.

The general view people have is that the congress is broken because nothing ever gets done.  For the better part of 2 years congress' overall approval ratings has been in the teens.

At the same time the re election rate in congress is actually higher than the soviet politburo was.

So essentially the public says "congress is the problem, except for my congressman."

Well the truth is the problem isn't congress or any individual congressperson, but the fact that we don't hold our members of congress more accountable for action.

The reason we don't hold them accountable is because we generally don't pay attention to what they are doing.

Our members of congress are in general good people who want to do good things. Regardless of political persuasion, background, or supporters this is generally true.  The difference between them is less about party, or if they are corrupt, but instead how they see getting good things accomplished, and the priority with which they place those issues.

So if you want to truly know your member of congress, or how to get them engaged on things. Here is a fool proof plan to success:

STEP ONE - don't be a one issue / one position / one approach person
Know all the issues. Know all the stances. Know which are priorities. Know how to promote things that may not be your first priority.

STEP TWO - don't try to eat the elephant in one bite
Legislation takes time, and change needs to be an evolution. If you look at the history of any policy you love or hate it started small and took time to grow.

STEP THREE - stay on top of things
Information about what is going on in DC or your state Capitol, or even your city hall is very easy to follow. No it's not as easy to digest as a reality tv show or as entertaining as a sit com, but there are resources that can make the issues much more accessible. Check out thehill.com politico.com and fivethirtyeight 

STEP FOUR - don't just follow one point of view
It's easy to just watch fox, or just watch msnbc, or just watch cnn.  However when you do that, you never challenge your own thoughts, and you never see how anyone else could view an issue. In other words, it's like talking into a mirror. You learn from other perspectives

STEP FIVE - don't become that guy/gal
Here's the thing. Neither Bush nor Obama are like Hitler.  And that kind of talk makes you look like a lunatic. So stay away from that, it does nothing for anyone, anywhere, anyhow.

Five steps and you'll quickly become an involved engaged person.  You might also find that your congressman is the problem and that the congress isn't!