One of the most powerful tools for advocating government is to have the best information. Baltivist.com is a platform for the aggregation of that information by other members of the community. You can start gathering that information today.
First, it may help to learn a bit about the most pressing issues in Congress today.
When vying for independence, the largest issue seemed simple: gain independence.
Today, threats have evolved and the issues may seem more complex. That does not mean they are no longer important.
The threat from the Kremlin has not disappeared, it has just updated. Now, the threats come from cyber attacks, military buildups, energy control, and disinformation campaigns; ie fake news.
Congress pays attention to all these issues. But some members pay more attention than others. It is your job to make sure your members stay focused.
Start by learning about your members of Congress and see what information others already have found on your Senators or Representatives.
· Are they part of the House Baltic Caucus or the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus?
· Do they openly support any bills related to the Baltic countries by sponsoring them?
· Have they made any statements or tweets about the Baltic countries?
· How large and active is the Baltic community in the Congressional district?
Perhaps most importantly, if you learn anything that is relevant, submit the information under the Senator’s Baltivist profile or Representative’s Baltivist profile.
Know the latest developments on an issue like a news article? Post it under the issue’s page.
Know some activity your member of Congress did on the Baltic issues like a visit your community center, your church, or even the Baltic countries? Post it under the legislator’s Baltivist profile.
More ways to gather intelligence:
Your favorite search engine
See what comes up when you search for your legislator with any of the following words: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Baltics, NATO, Nord Stream 2, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, etc..
Members of Congress love posting their positions on Twitter. Find their twitter account and do an advanced search to see if they have tweeted anything relevant.
Legislator’s personal websites
Each legislator has a personal website which can be found through Congress.gov. There, they might have press releases that show their opinions.
Debates and State of the Unions
One way to view debates and State of the Unions is to view it as a scavenger hunt. Were your issues spoken about? For example, during the Democratic Presidential Debate, many candidates spoke about how their first task will be to strengthen relationships with NATO countries. Additionally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first international trip was to NATO countries. Bipartisan wins. Nice.
Emailing legislative staff/legislators
One of the great things about emailing legislators is that someone almost always has to respond. This gives an idea of exactly what a legislator thinks about an issue, when a statement by that politician might not be available publicly. Additionally, this gives insight into how much the politician knows about an issue. If you email your senator saying you want them to support the Baltics and fight Russian disinformation, but that senator responds saying they are supporting the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, that senator might need to be informed of the ways Congress can address disinformation campaigns.
Personal meetings with staff could be a great way to learn about what inside knowledge about a particular issue. If a bill is not moving, but the legislator is a sponsor of the bill, this is a great time to ask what could be done to help move the bill.
During a personal meeting, staff may also ask you to gather intelligence for them. They might want to know about any stories about how the Baltics are fighting against Russian aggression, or they may want to learn lessons from the Baltics on how to fight disinformation or improve cybersecurity.