Hundreds of thousands of folks visit Washington DC in the summer to enjoy walking along the Mall or the Reflecting Pool, to gawk at thousands of displays in hundreds of museums or to visit the halls of Congress to see what goes on behind the scenes in the making of our laws and the judging of them by the Supreme Court. But not all visitors are there to enjoy the sights and sounds. Some of them – including a delegation from AANR – are there to try to have an impact on a chosen ideology by lobbying their senators and representatives. I have done that for the fourth time this year, and I can tell you that it is hard work. One of the most noticeable aspects of DC is the grandiose size of it. Everything is bigger than normal, farther to walk, heavier doors, longer hallways, huge trees and now, after 9/11, much larger areas that are cordoned off making one walk around them. There are three huge House Office Buildings (Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn) and one smaller one (Ford). There are three Senate Office Buildings (Dirksen, Hart and Russell). Each of these office buildings takes up a full city block of space and the House buildings are on the opposite side of the Capitol from the Senate buildings. Just getting from one building to another is strenuous, although you can take a tunnel system from one House building to another or one Senate building to another (but not from one side of the Capitol to the other). Each building also has numerous floors with stairways more prominent than elevators.
So why would I volunteer to do such a thing? Because I believe that being diligent and proactive about discussing nude recreation with our lawmakers is the only thing that is ultimately going to keep our recreational choice alive. It is so easy to get complacent and think that the battle is won – everyone knows we exist and they wouldn’t do anything to destroy the life we know and love. Well, think again. Every year I meet new people who don’t even know we exist – or if they do, they have a skewed concept of what we are all about.
This year I went into 10 offices of the Arizona Delegation (eight representatives and two senators). Many of them and their staffs know me, and I was greeted as an old friend. But I didn’t stop there. I also walked into more than 20 other offices of legislators that I did not know. I talked to staff representing states from
California to Massachusetts and from Texas to Idaho. Yes, I made sure the Idaho representative knew that our AANR Convention would be held in his state this year. I invited him out to see what we do and to enjoy the great Idaho weather in August.
Did I have some impact in all this? Yes, I think I did. I’ve already received a letter from the Honorable Phil Gingrey of Georgia thanking me for stopping by his office. I’m a long way from GA, but I think he knows what we stand for after talking to me. It is hard work, but I also find it very rewarding hard work!