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All Politics is Still Local

With a national narrative playing out in the 24-hour news cycle, we are constantly bombarded with political information by cable news, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. That does not change the fact however, that as former House Speaker Tip O’Neill said, “all politics is local,” and in November, the votes for our elected officials will be cast by each individual voter. This is why it is so important to be both informed about candidates in your area and active in the political process by engaging with your elected officials. That’s why, more than 70 years later, this phrase still rings true: all politics is still local and it starts with you.
Despite a constant throng of political information at the national level, candidates are still accountable first and foremost to their constituents: voters like you in their home state or district. What’s most important to members of Congress should not be how an issue plays in Washington, D.C. or in the echo chamber of the 24-hour news cycle. Rather, it’s how an issue plays in their hometowns of Wilmington, Wichita and Waco that is most important to each member of Congress. As a result, we must make the voice of franchising heard not only in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., but also at the local level directly with your elected officials.
A recent survey conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation of congressional staff shows that they believe constituents actually have more influence on undecided lawmakers than lobbyists do. When asked about various groups and strategies that might influence their member of Congress, 46 percent of congressional staff surveyed said that “in-person constituent visits” would have “a lot” of influence on a legislator’s decision.
There is additional value in meeting with legislators in their district offices rather than in Washington, D.C. and IFA encourages all Franchise Congress members to do so. When members of Congress are back home in their districts, they usually are not as crushed for time and are not constantly rushing to committee hearings and votes in Washington, offering the potential for a more robust and comprehensive discussion.
Members of Congress need to know how important franchising is to the nation’s economy and our nation’s continued economic recovery. It’s up to you to get the information out there. As an example, IFA member Don DeSmith, president of Servant Systems, had a Saturday meeting last month with Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan’s 7th district. They discussed many issues important to the franchise community including economic policy and DeSmith was able to give the congressman IFA’s policy platform, which lists our top legislative and regulatory priorities, for review during the meeting. 
Erica Fitzsimmons is director of political affairs and grassroots advocacy for the International Franchise Association. She can be reached at 202-662-0760 or

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