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Euro Trib Action Alert Primer (check it out!)

by gradinski chai Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 07:42:54 AM EST

Primer: A book that covers the basic or elementary parts of a subject; a book for teaching children to read.

Last week, I put up an entry on action alerts in the European Tribune Wiki. For those unfamiliar, an action alert is a form of public lobbying that focuses lots of different citizen voices on a few influential public servants.

I hope that some enterprising person concerned about some particular issue being considered in Brussels will be able to use it...and to continue bridging the gap between Europe's citizens and the EU.

Editor's Note: Please go read this Action Alert Primer - its a short read and important information to become familiar with. (25-8-05; 6:00pm MEST; by whataboutbob)


The first part of the Wiki links to a very considered check list for someone who wants to craft an effective action alert. The second part of the entry identifies possible targets among the seemingly labyrinthine EU institutions.

Because both member state national governments and EU institutions play a role in policymaking, the fairly decentralized structure can make it more difficult for citizens to participate in the governing process. Knowing which target points within the EU institutions and national governments that may be worthy of looking at if you contemplate initiating an action alert can possibly make an action alert more effective.  

At present, I think that we are just setting things in place. We are still probably too small to launch an effective action alert from European Tribune alone, but from another perspective, we are not alone. We, here, at European Tribune, are part of an emerging social network concerned with progressive politics, but we are also members of many other social networks in the course of our everyday lives. If we can involve even a small fraction of people in these other networks, we still have the possibility of marshalling a fairly large group of concerned citizens.

The other challenge that we face is the relative lack of experience with this type of citizen input into policymaking. Citizens across the continent acknowledge that voting in elections and referenda are avenues for their participation. Some fewer go even further by joining political parties or supporting particular candidates or taking to the streets on occasion, but these are all only infrequent events. Very few citizens are accustomed to being quasi-engaged in regular policymaking...not everyday, but more than once every four or five years.

So if there are these problems, then why undertake an action alert?

The centralized lobbying structures that are indicative of American politics need not be replicated on an EU scale. Well, ok, it's already happening, and many companies and other actors have already set up shop in Brussels. But this remote policymaking does not have to continue. Indeed, it cannot continue as this summer's referenda show.

The professional lobbyist/public official dynamic developed in a socio-economic structure where average, involved citizens were largely removed from policymaking by distance, information, and knowledge. Communications technology now allows anyone with a computer link and a little curiosity to have a role to play in policymaking. We still need good information and appropriate policies, but today's lobbyist can be a farmer near Vajszlo, a fisherman in Alesund, or a student in Limerick.

True, my letter about a new EU directive on water quality is not going to be as influential as the lobbyist who speaks directly and perhaps wines&dines an EU official. But my email or letter and hundreds, if not thousands, of other such communications changes the policy making atmosphere. It puts everyone on notice that intelligent and concerned people are watching what is happening. This changes the nature of policymaking keeps public officials more aware of the public good and makes abuses less likely. And, it probably makes us better persons as well.

I would appreciate any feedback on something that's not clear. I'm also happy to give feedback if you have an issue that you believe is appropriate for an action alert.

Display:
GC, THANK YOU...SO much for doing this work! You are an unsung hero here, preparing us for future endeavors...very important indeed. Please everyone, click on this link and go check out his work thus far:

http://www.eurotribwiki.com/pmwiki.php/Main/ActionAlerts

Recommend!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Thu Aug 25th, 2005 at 10:28:05 AM EST
by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 12:32:58 PM EST
Fantastic...the resource person!!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 12:36:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a few more in stock and can find others on request...

I think we should have a list of useful European links somewhere on the site

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 12:44:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what the wiki is for.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 12:45:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it best if we store it in the Wiki, just because of all the room it would take up on the front page, though I don't know how to do that (do you, gc?)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 12:46:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Done!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 01:33:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... in the "Tools for Action" section


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 01:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 01:51:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We already have a lot of information stored in there...thanks a lot, folks, this will definitely be handy in the near future

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 02:00:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've added and updated the ET Wiki page on European Institutions And Resources

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 07:12:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe is governed by corporate, monied, political and religious elites. But they don't have the numbers. They are outnumbered by millions to one.

But they sidestepped this problem by anaesthetising and mesmorising the 'incalcuable horde'.

The thing they fear most of all is activity by that horde. Letting them know that there are millions out there who will remove them at the next opportunity is the only way to concentrate their minds.

Contacting them is the best way to let them know they are being watched.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 05:31:28 PM EST
Exactly. Just knowing that they're being watched will keep the ethically weaker among them extra careful. This goes for national politicians, national civil servants, MEPs, and EU officials.

Sometimes we forget about the human dynamics of political office holders. We forget that they are subject to the very same human frailties and strengths. TV turns them into characters rather than people who are subject to the human condition. Even the tabloids don't show them as people; instead, they appear as characters in a soap opera.

We have to shake ourselves to remember that political elites will largely react in ways that are similiar to how our friends, acquaintances, and colleagues react. Social pressure can be brought to bear on them.

by gradinski chai on Fri Aug 26th, 2005 at 11:05:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most people (including me) don't quite know how to get organized. This diary inspired me to search for resources.

Among many others, this one had some practical tips:

http://www.msu.edu/~corcora5/org/grouporgtips.html

     and then click on the various <group tips> in the menu at top of page

There are many many more...

Of the 56% Americans that think Bush is incompetent (my asumption), I guess only a small number are experienced activists. The majority don't know how to get started. Perhaps if they realised how relatively easy it is to get moving at a local level, they would be more keen to get involved. So the question is: how can we make people aware of how to do it?

Of course, at the local level, it is a slow process of attrition. But I have noticed in Finland that more people are getting off their butts. I super-salesman friend - the last person I thought of as a potential activist - asked me yesterday how to go about dunning his MP about the safety of a road near his home that his kids have to cross. (The MP lady had promised this as a priority in 7 years of election speeches)

Nationwide campaigns are important, and it is always nice to make the headlines - you feel that something is happening. But the smaller local campaigns are just as important in the long run.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 28th, 2005 at 07:50:32 AM EST
As the former outspoken liberal Democrat Speaker of the House, Massachusetts Congressman Tip O'Neill (December 9, 1912 - January 5, 1994), used to say:  "All politics is local."*

*(caveat, not an endorsement of Amazon - see BuyBlue's Amazon rating.)

by caldonia on Sun Aug 28th, 2005 at 09:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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