Advocacy is about making things more or less likely. Unless you have a lot of power I don’t know if it ever “causes” anything. It is a search for leverage to tip things in one direction or another.
It answers three questions :
What is going on?
What is the significance of what is going on? What does it mean?
What is the plan? What should be done to address the significance of what has happened?
Whoever controls the answers to these questions is likely to have the most heard voice. They are the ones likely to impact most. They make events either more or less likely to happen.
These questions are never answered. They are always being answered. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. It is a process, not an event.
It does not matter so much what you say as it does what the person you are talking to hears. Part of advocacy is translating what you want to say into something likely to be heard without sacrificing the integrity of the message. Sometimes people can be very passionate but simply unable to find a way to translate into terms likely to be heard. Sometimes the “best” message is not heard as much as the one easiest to hear. Sometimes what resonates with you may not resonate with the person you talk to and advocacy is making yourself more likely to be heard.
And it has a fourth question…..
Given the impact I have had so far what do I do now? How do I make today’s victory tomorrow’s victory? What can I do to lessen today’s loss or to make it tomorrow’s victory?
On the Murphy Bill all three of the initial questions have been and continue to be a battle. The “so what” question is changing I believe. The Murphy forces are trying to change the debate to a debate about public safety in light of recent tragedies, and in a climate that doesn’t want to talk about guns, present their bill as an answer to an issue they can’t ignore. A friend framed it this way. “The Murphy Bill is needed to make sure the invisible hand of the NRA stays invisible.”
The way we answer that question will help to chart the road ahead.