How to Write a Good Policy

Not all policies are created equal.  Whether they are being crafted by elected officials, lobbyists, or everyday Americans, there’s a lot that differentiates a good policy from a bad one.  The goal of all policies, whether created on LawMaker or by lobbyists, is to engage an elected official with a policy idea they can turn into a law. At LawMaker, we want to help you propose short, simple laws that are easy to understand and can benefit a lot of people.  You don’t need legalese or political jargon. Just explain the problem you’re addressing along with your solution as clearly, logically, and simply as possible. You and others can always add amendments later on, but your core idea should be succinct and to the point to maximize how far is spreads online when you share it with others.  

What makes a good policy:

  • Clearly explained with simple language (less than 2000 characters)
  • Explains the problem and the solution
  • Answers the most likely asked questions
  • Is realistic and has the ability to actually function within our governments.
  • Uses civil and productive language.  

A Descriptive Title (required)

The title of your policy is very important.  Unlike laws at the federal and state level, which often have misleading titles that do little to describe the law inside, a descriptive title on LawMaker makes all the difference.  Users want to know what your policy is about and if it’s important to them. In 80 characters or less, describe the law you’re proposing, why it’s important, and it’s likely to impact.  

Video (optional)

You do not have to propose your policy with a video, but we think it’s a great idea.  Especially when it comes to civic issues, most web users pay more attention to video than they do text.  Also, by including a video, you’re essentially doubling your room to explain your policy (since you’ll also get to provide a written explanation as well).  You don’t need to make it fancy. Look into the camera, explain the problem you’re trying to solve, and how you think a new law can do it. If you’re talking about potholes on your street, show people your potholes.  If you’re a teacher talking about a new education policy, show people a classroom in need. Videos help people connect with others online, and building a coalition around your policy is entirely about connection.

Upload your video to YouTube, and copy & paste the link into LawMaker’s policy creation wizard.  This means all of YouTube’s standards for decency and civility apply to your policy as well, and your video will be pulled down if it doesn’t meet them.  Keep that in mind — people are craving more civil political discourse.  Talk to the LawMaker community the way you wish to be spoken to.

A Detailed Explanation (2000 characters) (required)

Here’s the meat of your policy.  This is what your supporters will analyze, debate, amend, and share.  Your policy explanation should address three major points.

  1. First, the problem.  What are you trying to solve?  Explain it clearly, and try to address a problem many people face.  A coalition of 10,000 is much more politically persuasive than a coalition of 10.  
  2. Second, how do you propose the government should solve it?  Your goal on LawMaker is to engage an elected official with a policy idea they can turn into a law.  How can that elected official’s team address this issue? Is it with a new tax, a new education policy, or a new energy regulation?  Is it by abolishing an existing law? Be creative and be specific.
  3. Finally, connect the dots between your policy idea and the real world.  Will it save us money or cost us more? How do we pay for it? How does it dovetail with other laws?  Are there any hurdles or objections to your idea that will have to be dealt with? Explaining how your policy will function in the real world is the key to your idea being taken seriously by politicians, reporters, and a large mass of voters.

Where is your policy for?  / Geo-tag Your Policy (required)

The first way people generally search for new laws is by geography.  Most of us are concerned with policies that impact us and our communities.  Make sure you appropriately tag your policy with the area it is meant to impact.  Once you input the ZIP code, you must select whether your policy applies to the federal, state, county, or city level.  

What is the problem you are trying to address?  Is it only in your city, or does it span beyond your city’s borders?  Is it a highway issue that is determined by the state, or is it an immigration issue that is largely regulated by the federal government?  Think through your idea, and decide which level of government you want to engage. This will help you determine which jurisdiction level to choose.  Is your policy a federal, state, county, or city policy?  Click here for a more detailed explanation of how policies overlap and differ at the various levels of government

Type of Policy (required)

The second way users search for new policies, is by topic.  Select the category that most closely fits your idea. We know some ideas fit more than one category, but it’s best to choose just one.  This makes your policy easier to search for, which makes it easier for other interested voters to discover online!

Add Hashtags (optional)

You don’t have to use hashtags for your policy, but it could help you earn support and help your idea spread further online. They’re a quick way to identify your policy and create or connect it with existing civic movements. When you create a hashtag for your policy and share it from LawMaker, your hashtag will be included too.

What to do after you publish your policy!  / Hit that share button!

You’ve created your policy, now what?  Share it and spread the word as far and wide as you can.  We recommend you share it on as many social media platforms as possible.  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are natural choices but don’t forget other platforms like Reddit, SnapChat and NextDoor.  NextDoor.com is a platform that specifically connects you with people in your neighborhood, which is a great way to connect with people about the local issues you all face.

Share your policy at least twice a week, and engage with people who amend your policy.   Encourage your network to sign up at LawMaker.io and upvote your policy! The more momentum you build, the more likely your elected officials will respond when you share your policy with them publicly on social media!  

LawMaker HQ

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