I had a conversation with an activity group and met with a senate and two representatives (District 43) on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 for lobbying on I-732. The discussion was mainly about imposing carbon tax. Although I had a previous experience presenting to a Thai prime minister, this was the first time I met a US representative. There were many things that impressed me that day.
My reaction to the process of lobbying a bill was “wow!” Before meeting the representatives, we met a big group of people who were interested in the carbon tax. They were well organized; for example, some of them were preparing educational materials, some were briefing others on the agenda, and some were trying to accommodate people. Moreover, they planned the sequence of the questions in order to make the representatives more interested. (However, in the end, I personally found that their argument was not strong enough).
The environmental topics were interesting. There were a variety of people in a wide range of occupations. I was impressed to meet one high school student, because in my country, Thailand, the political role of high school students is limited. The teachers usually do not allow students to express their political opinions and the students just focus on preparing for national exams. In addition,, I met a group of students from the University of Washington. They told me that they created activities such as informing people about the bill around the campus and U-District (but I have not seen them). Overall, I was impressed because political participation and the democratic process in the US are very advanced.
The way that representatives reacted to our agenda was great. First of all, they were nice, friendly, and good listeners. I was not so stressed about sitting near them. Moreover, the way they answered our questions was smart. I found that they did not quite agree with our proposal but they tried to say “yes, but … ” or “ I like it but I must ask ….”. They did not commit themselves at all. One thing I was upset about was timing. To clarify, the senate and representatives had only 10 minutes to talk to us.
All in all, even though I only introduced myself to the representatives, was a good listener, and felt that the bill should be adjusted before being voted on, this meeting taught me about politics and the environment. Furthermore, this meeting was a good oppourtunity to practice for future seminars.