21. After the battle is over

The battle is never really over! As soon as one fight has ended, prepare for the next one.

Debrief your sponsors, policy leaders, coalition partners and staff. Evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be done before the next battle begins. Honestly recognize challenges and fix mistakes.

At the same time, thank, praise, and reward all your allies. Win or lose, make sure policymakers and coalition partners are glad they sided with you in the battle. You will need them next time as well.

Praise policymakers in letters to your group and in newspaper Letters to the Editor. Write flattering notes to legislators that they can quote in newsletters and campaign fliers. Give out “Legislator of the Year” awards to your strongest champions. Have the members of your group praise and thank policymakers at public events. You might even hold a press conference or buy ads to show your gratitude. They will love it, and they deserve it.

Also, if it is at all practical, make your opponents sorry they voted against you. Complain about them in news stories and Letters to the Editor, send reports to your organization’s members that call out those policymakers, get volunteers to attend civic or town hall meetings where they chastise those policymakers for their votes. Make sure the constituents of an opposition policymaker know that he or she did the wrong thing. (The radio ad displayed below is a pretty aggressive and effective example of this.)

This is not a matter of “getting back” at your opponents, it is to let their constituents know about their position on the issues and persuade those policymakers that they’d be better off siding with you next time.

Finally, if you pass a law, make sure it is fully implemented. This includes ensuring that proper regulations are promulgated, that people know about any benefits from the law, and that the provisions are fully funded in future budgets.