Shoe-leather lobbying: Students in D.C. learn how to press an issue

Students head toward the Capitol on the final day of a workshop on lobbying for women’s health issues. Advocates said they hope to take lessons learned here back home to do local lobbying. (Photo by Anthony Marroquin/Cronkite News)

Daniel Restrepo said was not politically active during President Barack Obama’s administration, but the election of President Donald Trump motivated him to “step up and do my part.” (Photo by Anthony Marroquin/Cronkite News)

Haley Downing, one of the Arizona State University students who part of a Population Connection workshop in Washington, said she felt someone had to stand up “so why not us?” (Photo by Anthony Marroquin/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Daniel Restrepo admits that he may have gotten politically complacent while President Barack Obama was in office, years in which he felt that “the march of progress was always this steady constant thing.”

All that changed for the Arizona State University biology major when Donald Trump won the presidential election.

“I was kind of horrified and so I kind of realized that’s where I needed to step up and do my part where I hadn’t been in the past,” said Restrepo, a senior.

That meant coming to Washington over the weekend where Restrepo joined 351 other young advocates from around the country at a workshop sponsored by the Population Connection Action Fund, an organization that specializes in mobilizing people for women’s rights causes.

The advocates spent the weekend in workshops learning the policy aspects of reproductive rights, before heading off to Capitol Hill Monday morning to visit congressional offices and talk to them about women’s initiatives they hope to see Congress take on in the future.

“Not too many people like, really dive in on what exactly needs to happen for reproductive rights, so somebody’s got to stand up,” said Haley Downing, an ASU senior who was making the rounds of the Hill Monday. “So, why not us?”

But the weekend was not just about women’s rights. ASU sophomore Amanda Marquez-Vincent said one of the most important parts from this weekend was getting a better look at how grassroots movements work, lessons that she hopes to bring back to similar efforts in Arizona.

“It is important, even though we’re here at the Capitol doing something on a national level, to take those resources, to take these materials, and take information back home to better enable us to act in our own communities, and in our own cities,” Marquez-Vincent said, standing outside the Cannon House Office Building.

The political science major already leads the Voices for Planned Parenthood chapter at ASU, but said she is excited about the opportunity to be in the nation’s capital learning how to amplify the power of her voice beyond what she already possesses.

“Personally for me, what I hope to accomplish by the end of the day here is to show, like I said, is to show our House representatives and to show our senators that we are not just here to mobilize on a local or state level,” Marquez-Vincent said.

Most of the advocates were scheduled to return home Monday evening.

-Cronkite News video by Anthony Marroquin