SUTHERLAND INSTITUTE AND RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP
Sutherland’s “theory of action” is to directly interact with and constructively influence Utah’s state and local decision-makers and to invite responsible citizens to help leverage this work. These actions will occur chiefly through The Center for Responsible Citizenship.
The Institute is only interested in effective change – and truly effective change most often occurs through personal contacts: one-on-one or small group opportunities to meet with decision-makers and responsible citizens. Sutherland uses its stable of resources to reach the hearts and minds of individuals.
Sutherland is an IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. As such, it is permitted to educate and “lobby” according to very stringent guidelines called an “H election.” The Institute takes full advantage of this allowance in the law.
Since 2005, the large percentage of Sutherland’s operational focus has been on directly and constructively influencing (i.e., educating) state lawmakers. This focus has led to great successes at the state Legislature. To date, Sutherland has committed four staff members (one full time, one part time, and two on contract) to accomplish our policy purposes through education and legislation.
Sutherland staff treats all legislators with respect. State legislators know that we deal with them according to our governing principles, which provide mutual reference points for both them and us to communicate clearly. Because Sutherland is not involved in political campaigns, or political action committees designed to influence political campaigns, state legislators know that principles and ideas govern our working relation ships – we don’t ask for special favors from them; we only ask for listening ears and open minds.
In the 2010 legislative session, legislators voted for Sutherland-supported proposals 74 percent of the time.
State legislators know that we are here to serve them and to help them to become better representatives of the people. Our most effective approach to constructively influencing decision-makers has been our Transcend Series program, begun in 2004. Several hundred elected and community leaders have participated in this program, and most have expressed their praise for both the content and Sutherland’s effort to provide it for them. In short, through ourTranscend Series, Sutherland has gained the personal respect and trust of a growing number of decision-makers.
Initially a one-day-a-month-for-nine-months program (during the interim months between general legislative sessions), the Transcend Series has been narrowed to three daylong sessions: a session on political leadership; a session on honesty and integrity in public service; and a session on understanding and implementing principle-based governance.
While the Transcend Series remains Sutherland’s trademark means of developing decision-makers and responsible citizens into principled agents of change in “protecting the cause of freedom,” our efforts to touch hearts and minds must expand into a coordinated, statewide network of responsible citizens – partners with Sutherland in exchanging information and asserting influence to promote principle-based governance for Utah.
Responsible Citizen Exchange
This year, Sutherland started an aggressive grassroots program, the Responsible Citizen Exchange. In this context, a responsible citizen is informed, civil, principled, and influential. Sutherland calls on a significant core group of responsible Utahns to become a part of this newExchange – an exchange of information and influence.
In this Exchange, Sutherland will help to magnify the citizenship of individuals and, in turn, these select individuals will help leverage Sutherland’s influence with decision-makers. Sutherland’s role in this Exchange is to (1) cultivate a more positive environment for responsible citizens to influence their communities, (2) provide educational support and training, (3) deliver consistently-superior political results, and (4) create an increasing demand for civic participation.
The role of responsible citizens in this Exchange is to (1) provide Sutherland with ongoing information about local policy and politics in their own communities, (2) use information received by them from Sutherland to communicate with state and local decision-makers, (3) invite like-minded family and friends from their local communities to participate in the Exchange, and (4) continue to be taught and informed through Sutherland projects and programs. In short, the role of responsible citizens in this Exchange is to magnify their citizenship in an effective and dignified manner.