Humans love talking about politics. Even if the topic’s totally irrelevant, we often sneak in advocacy of favored political groups. “It feels so good to get in a hearty punch, y’know, it’s like trying to resist a chocolate cookie.”

Hence, when someone ends a discussion of goal X with “Therefore, we all need to lobby Congress for Y” or (even worse) “Therefore, we all need to vote for Z”, we should immediately get suspicious. It’s like a car salesman explaining how the best way to help your marriage is plonking down $70,000 on a new Ferrari. Is it possible? Yes. But you should be just a little wary.

Politics is suspicious as the best means to ends for other reasons. It’s extremely available, so it’s often tried before other, less obvious strategies that work much better. It’s also zero-sum, and extremely competitive. So much human and social capital is going there already, yours probably won’t make a dent.

But even when you’re totally sure goal X requires politics, and there’s no other alternative, please give up already on US federal lobbying. The odds of anyone reading this blog pushing serious changes through a Congress this dysfunctional are epsilon. It’s a strictly dominant strategy to work on the local level, or in another country that isn’t so powerful or sclerotic.