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The Unrealized Potential of Internet Advocacy

During the Twentieth Century, most people felt powerless to influence the decisions of city, county, state, and the federal government. They felt that bureaucrats, appointed officials, and elected representatives would largely ignore their needs and concerns.

What most people saw was a government that was largely responsive to lobbyists and special interests who represented the rich and the powerful. That the further down you were on the social and economic ladder, the less that government listened to your concerns or worked to improve your lot in life.

If a crisis such as a Love Canal or other environmental disaster struck your community, then government would finally pay attention. Otherwise, government belonged to the rich and the powerful who gave lip service to community concerns without ever requiring government to address festering problems.

The new millennium ushered in a change in technology that has the potential to allow citizens to influence government decisions and policies. The Internet gives the individual citizen a voice that can be combined with other voices to form a chorus for social and economic change. Individuals can hook up with other individuals from their local community or throughout the nation to seek change in policies or laws which impact their lives.

In the Twentieth Century, it was difficult to conduct an advocacy campaign unless you could find a financial angel who would contribute the start-up money necessary to build an organization or community group. Most of your communications and notifications were sent through the United States Postal Service. While the reliability was great, the costs quickly exhausted the resources of most community groups. You had to pay for copying, labels, and postage. To notify 100 individuals concerning an upcoming meeting through the mail today would cost you almost $50.

The internet has the potential to allow you to communicate with hundreds of individuals for free. You can make-up a custom colorful meeting notice and email it out to your group's members for nothing. You can send out alerts concerning city council or planning commission meetings for free. The internet allows you to perform a myriad of tasks for virtually free which would have eaten up your group's budget in the past.

 

The Failure To Engage In Internet Advocacy

One of the things that is very hard to understand is why corporations, trade associations, labor unions, special interest groups, nonprofit organizations, and community groups do not place greater emphasis on internet advocacy. Internet advocacy is the stepchild who only receives a token financial commitment. The majority of the funds go to old line personal lobbying and backroom politics.

 

   

Donald Lewin Nelson

6023 Amos Avenue, Lakewood, California 90712-1324
4144 West 4835 South, Kearns, Utah 84118-4030