Have you ever noticed that food is better when we take the time to do it right? With all the shortcuts to preparing food these days—from Instant Pots to packaged meal kits—sometimes it feels good to dig in and work on something from scratch.
The same can be said for the world of policy, actually. You’ve probably heard that we’re celebrating some big wins right now, and I can tell you that none of those wins came instantly. There was a lot of cooking from scratch, and we’ll admit our kitchen got a bit messy from time to time. But in the end, we and our partners were able to whip up some pretty spectacular dishes. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d provide you with a recipe this month.
Winning: A recipe for success from the League
You’ll need equal parts:
Time (no, not thyme): Sometimes you’ll put years into this recipe. Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, which was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Oct. 31, took five years. Improving Michigan’s asset test limit is something we’ve been working on since 2012, and it took until this year to make it happen. You need time to explain your issue, to develop relationships, to build support. Advocacy is not instant.
Compromise: If you’re only working with the ingredients in your own cupboard, then you’re going to have a hard time getting a good result. You’ve got to invite others into the kitchen. They may have different ideas about how to create the meal, but you’ll often find you have the same end goal. Raise the Age, for example, saw bipartisan support and gave us the opportunity to work with organizations who might have different views than we do. Despite our different agendas and values, we were able to come together for this issue because we put policy over politics. Advocacy is not one-sided.
Tenacity: Sometimes we have to mix the batter a little harder to get the right result. When the Trump administration announced that it was undoing Obama-era changes to the overtime threshold, we had to react and fight. The administration’s move, disguised as a win for workers, actually left 200,000 working Michiganders behind. We spoke out and spoke up. And we’re glad the governor understood the danger of this issue, too, as she had the will to improve Michigan’s own rule on overtime. Advocacy is not easy. (Optional ingredient: Tylenol. Hey. This recipe can create headaches, backaches and a host of other ailments. To get it right, you might need some help with the pain.)
Patience: You may actually need a few more cups of this than all the other ingredients. When you care deeply about an issue, it’s hard to understand why support isn’t coming together quickly. But you can’t become so impatient that you lose sight of your goal. I may not be a master soufflé baker, but I know not to shake things up when something precious is cooking. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Once you have the ingredients, the recipe is easy to follow: Stay focused, take the time to carefully prepare and remember to put your goal at the center of your work. Remember that every kitchen, every oven, every chef is a little bit different. Be ready to adjust the heat as needed and understand that even the best recipes need to be modified to suit your needs.
Oh, and you know that a chef’s work is never done, right? Even as we celebrate, we’re already prepping the kitchen for our next big win. Thanks for being with us all along the way.