It is important for advocates, whether working alone or within an advocacy organization, to assess and understand the political environment in which advocacy for their cause will take place. In doing so advocates can effectively map out a plan of action to gain the most support for their cause. Dye and MacManus (2012), in Chapter 5 of Politics in States and Communities, discuss the political party system within local and state governments the United States. In this chapter they discuss the laws governing political party affairs including: what constitutes a politics party, how the parties are allowed to nominate candidates for public office, the “ethics” of political campaigning, and the regulation campaign contributions and fund raising activities. They describe the structure and leadership of political parties at the state, county and city levels and the involvement of political activists, volunteers and grassroots efforts—which are all robust during elections and lean during non-election periods. Dye and MacManus also discuss party competitiveness within a state and how it can be measures by the existence of a divided government, the percentage of the elected offices filled by each party, and how many voters register or identify with a particular party. In developing understanding of the multiparty system and gauging the degree of partisanship for each party within the local and state government, advocates can effectively map out an advocacy plan in order to successfully promote their particular cause.
Assessing the Political Environment
Developing an advocacy action plan is important to successfully promoting a cause, this is especially true in multiparty political syste...
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...r party or candidate should be done with much forethought and caution as to not hamper the advocates ' cause in the long run. As discussed above many advocacy organizations favor nonpartisan advocacy in order to gain support for their cause from all sides. The following statement of caution published in the California Empowerment Organization 's What Makes an Effective Advocacy Organization? succinctly sums this sentiment, “A decisive skill for an advocacy organization is the ability to assess the relative feasibility of opportunities as they arise, and to calculate the associated risks and benefits of each approach or tactic” (p. 21). Thus, all advocacy activity, whether partition or nonpartisan in nature is most effective when carefully planned and mapped out with forethought and attention given to the political environment in which the advocacy will take place.
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