Saturday, January 28, 2017
ADVICE ABOUT CONTACTING LEGISLATORS
Passing along some useful advice here, given to me by a reliable source. It has to do with contacting legislators about issues of concern to you.
There are two things you should think about doing if you are concerned about any of the issues that fall within the domain of legislators, nationally or at the state level.
--> First of all, you should NOT be bothering with online petitions or emailing. These are generally ignored.
The best thing you can do to be heard and get your legislator to pay attention is to have face-to-face time.
If they have townhalls, go to them.
Go to their local offices.
If you're in Washington and want to have direct communication with a Senator or member of Congress, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs.
Go to the "mobile offices" that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson's website).
When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.
2. Because these in-person events don't happen every day, what you should be doing is calling. Not once. Not occasionally. But pretty much every day.
You should make at least 6 calls a day: two each (DC office and your local office) to your two Senators and your one Representative. Also, don't forget your state legislators.
Any sort of online contact generally is ignored, and letters pretty much get thrown in the trash.
Calls are what all the legislators pay attention to.
Every single day, the Senior Staff and the Senator get a report of the 3 most-called-about topics for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics.
They're also sorted by zip code and area code.
To my Republican friends, you should know that Republican callers generally outnumber Democrat callers 4-1, and when it's a particular issue that single-issue-voters pay attention to (like gun control, or planned parenthood funding, etc...), it's often closer to 11-1. It matters.
To my Democrat friends, same thing. It matters.
--> When you call:
A) When calling the Washington office, ask for the staff member in charge of whatever you're calling about ("Hi, I'd like to speak with the staffer in charge of healthcare, please")
Local offices won't always have specific ones, but they might.
If you get transferred to that person, awesome. If you don't, that's ok - ask for their name, and then just keep talking to whoever answered the phone. Don't leave a message (unless the office doesn't pick up at all - then you can...but it's better to talk to the staffer who first answered than leave a message for the specific staffer in charge of your topic).
B) Give them your zip code. They won't always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them, so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them, since they'll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.
C) If you can make it personal, make it personal. ("I voted for you in the last election and I'm worried/happy/whatever" or "I'm a teacher, and I wish to talk about such-and-such an education issue," or "as a single mother" or "as a white, middle class woman," or whatever would make it relevant and personal.
D) Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don't go down a whole list - they're figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists. So, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally, it would be something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days. But even if there's not a vote coming up in the next week, call anyway. It's important that they just keep getting calls.
E) Be clear on what you want - ("I'm disappointed that the Senator..." or "I want to thank the Senator for their vote on..." or "I want the Senator to know that voting in a certain way is the wrong decision for our state because..."). Be clear and direct and specific.
F) Don't worry about being a nuisance. The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they're really sick of your daily calls, they'll probably be gone in 6 weeks.
From experience since the election: If you hate being on the phone & feel awkward (which is a lot of people) don't worry about it. After a few days of calling, it starts to feel a lot more natural. Put the 6 numbers in your phone (all under P – for Politician, for example, so that it's easy to take care of it).
And this is what I mean when I say:
SOCIAL JUSTICE IS A VERB!