Update: HR 5680
I just talked to Hastert's office. They are deluged and aware-- and frankly a little weary.
I have gotten a few emails demonizing Hastert. Hello?! Exactly what happened to Donald Payne. Am I missing something? Do we Ethiopians “need” an enemy to galvanize?
As I understand it, we just need to ask the Speaker to schedule HR 5680 for a vote. And the strongest reason why it should be voted on is because it is in the best interest of the
People have to be methodical and calm. Fighting for democracy is not a “quick result” game where we think if we do X then Y must follow or the entire equation is wrecked. Sometimes you have to go through V to get to Y.
Thank you Aba Doyo from the comments section for the link to The Hill article. It was fascinating. Lobbying congress is a fine art. Alliances have to be nurtured and courted. This is a long-term commitment and not a roll in the hay, so how we treat congressional staffers should reflect our maturity and seriousness.
One thing I have learnt through all this is how insularly most of the Ethiopian-American existence is. We still have an immense problem venturing outside our comfort zone. A small example, how many of us belong to our alumni association? Even Ethiopians who have been lucky enough to have gone to top universities in the States rarely look back once we have degree in hand. Some of the most influential people leading this country went to these schools, and nothing opens up more doors than an alumna bond.
Someone needs to write a book on the art of networking for ETs. Seriously. Like all first generation immigrants, I guess we only venture outside our community only when we need something, and then drop off if we are not successful on the first try. It doesn’t work like that. We have a great opportunity to set a strong foundation. Once you get that going, even if the building falls, the foundation will sustain quick rebuilding. But if we are constantly pouring concrete on sand to set up ephemeral foundations we will be going nowhere fast.
The first step is to know what it takes to lobby the
My mother was very good at this. She used to volunteer PTA meetings at our house—which was a source of much consternation for our father who always became edgy when he had to deal with more than three ferenjie faces at one time… especially in his territory. My grandmother-in-law (such a thing?) still whispers when she sees ferenjies in our living room, and I have friends (you know who you are) who, when we invite them to a party at our house, immediately ask, “Is it an abesha thing or a ferenjie thing?” … ‘coz God forbid if the two shall meet!
To be sure, the Diaspora (the vocal one that Ato Meles’ government feels a need to, um, shut up) has come a long way. There are Ethiopian-American “get out the vote” initiatives happening. People are meeting with their representatives and senators. Even at a very ad hoc level, there is significant movement. Eventually, there will be one big gynormous
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see things), a strong Ethiopian PAC will come only after we are dealt a big blow. What the EPRDF should be more afraid of is this bill not passing because that will be the galvanizing factor. It will mean people who are in this thing for the short term and novelty will give up, which hopefully means more serious people who are not afraid of a few hits will fill the vacuum.
All to say… Hastert is our friend. Our job is to let him know that he is our friend. I have sent his staff a nice thank you letter, and maybe those of you in DC can deliver a basket of sambusa and a couple of bottles of tej to quench his staffs’ throats that are parched from talking to us. Any volunteers?
Speaker Hastert’s fax number is: 202-225-0697. I also like Demamu’s suggestion that we all get 10 non-Ethiopians to join the cause. I’ve gotten 6 and it took less than 2 hours!
- Those of you who haven’t, join LinkedIn.
- Don’t miss The Last King of Scotland, the Idi Amin movie coming out next week (September 27.)
- And don’t dare miss Borat’s movie- mark your calendar. November 3.