Is letter writing politically partisan?
No! In fact, the most effective advocacy groups make sure that they do not endorse any particular candidate or party. Indeed, some non-profit or congregations are excluded by law from making such statements. It doesn’t mean you cannot personally support someone but that is not the point of advocacy.
On the other hand, confusion arises when people realize advocacy is political. The following excerpt gives a very good lesson in advocacy. It illustrates clearly the fundamental difference between being political and being partisan.
“Out of the blue, I was invited to a meeting with Dave Barret, the former Premier of British Columbia who was once again Leader of the Opposition. He questioned me on our plans, listening quietly as I huffed and puffed. Then he pulled his chair close to mine and even though there were several others in the room looked me in the eye and gave me some advice I have never forgotten.
Listen, young man I loved being Premier. I want the job back more than you will ever know. And winning this by-election is a major step in that direction. And maybe what you are doing will help me. But you are making a big mistake. Leave the partisanship to me. Your job is to articulate the issues, critique government decisions and propose solutions. My job is to decide how to use that information, to attack and hopefully defeat the Government. You do your job and I’ll do mine.”
Plan Institute for Caring Citizenship,
“Be Political not Partisan” April 8th 2010.
As advocates, it is not our job to champion political parties. If you wish to become involved with a party, that’s great! But it is not advocacy. Long-term advocates learn to work with all political parties, in turn helping them perhaps to work with each other. The work continues no matter what party is in power today.
The following are guidelines Advocacy Hamilton uses to ensure it remains non-partisan.
Permissible Activities for Advocacy Hamilton
- Encourage people to vote.
- Encourage people to advocate on issues.
- Educate voters about the important issues.
- Sponsor candidate forums and that are conducted in a non-partisan manner.
- Invite an elected official to give a speech or participate in a panel, provided, however, that it is clear that their participation cannot in any way be used to further or oppose a political campaign.
Non-Permissible Activities for Advocacy Hamilton
- Directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for local, provincial, or federal office.
- Taking a position (verbally or in writing) on particular Party’ positions.
- Conducting partisan voter registration
- Using any labels or descriptions with respect to candidates that can be viewed as indirectly conveying support or opposition (i.e., a candidate is politically “liberal” or “conservative”)
- Selling or renting mailing lists of this website to candidates (NOTE: selling or renting mailing lists is prohibited under any circumstances)
- Making political public statements of position by or on behalf of Advocacy Hamilton and it’s members and contributors.
Permissible Activities for Individuals
Every advocate has the right to fully engage in partisan political activities, including contributing to candidates’ campaigns or political parties and/or working on their behalf. But if an advocate appears publicly to speak on behalf of a political party or candidate, and an inference can be drawn that he or she is speaking as a representative of their respective organization, that advocate must make it clear that he or she is speaking solely as an individual.