Why You Should Still Write To Your Congressmen (Even If You Think They Agree With You)

Lots of people seem to be upset with various aspects of American life, from education and healthcare to the economy and domestic surveillance.  Mostly we gripe about it and that’s it.  But there’s one simple thing we can all do that will actually help (more than doing nothing) and that is to write to your congressmen about it.  It may be true that no one is addressing your concerns, but you’ll have a better argument if you’ve at least told people about it.  More importantly, there are starting to be problems where it’s a bit like “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Or maybe, “now or never.” 

Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t seem necessary.   For instance, your favorite representative has just issued a press release to which you say “Hear, hear!”  Why write if you already know they agree with you?  Because if you don’t, they won’t know what you think.  And if they don’t know what you think, yea or nay, they won’t know who they represent, which is essential to knowing how to represent them.  We don’t call them elected representatives for nothing.

The benefit to your representatives is that they can ascertain how much people care about an issue and whether there’s a clear majority opinion on it.  It can let them know how they’re doing overall.  And it gives them ammo when they’re actually fighting for us on something we all care about.  

Speaking of things we care about, there’s a rather huge issue brewing on the government surveillance and internet and phone privacy.   However you stand on the matter, here’s one of those “now or never” situations where it might be a good idea to let your congressman and senators know how you feel.  According to a Guardian story, some members of Congress are starting to get riled and debate is almost assured.  Our representatives need to know where we stand if we want our views taken into consideration at all.  Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of guys talking amongst themselves and that’s not democracy.

Guardian: US lawmakers call for review of Patriot Act after NSA surveillance revelations

Comments | 2

  • Thanks!

    Thanks Lise!
    This is just the kick in the butt that I needed, because you are right. Our letters (and calls and emails) make a difference. When our reps speak on the floor of the congress or in committee rooms and cloak rooms with their colleagues and they can say, “I’ve gotten mail on this” that gets attention. When they can say, “I’ve gotten more mail on this than any other issue.” that really perks up ears.

    Nice how your article appears right next to the links for our reps!

  • Seems to still work

    I’ve been knocked out with the flu all week and watching a fair amount of CSPAN. Today’s focus on the House floor was on a number of issues that all involved Reps working with those they represent.

    One rep was talking about hunger and how he was going to spend the week, along with colleagues, living on the $4.50 or so given for minimal subsistence. This came about after hearing from people that it is very hard to eat using $31 a week as a budget. He and others are going to do this to raise attention on behalf of those they represent.

    Quite a few rose to talk about the Sandy Hook parents who have come back and are continuing to push for gun control legislation, and said they were taking that up again because the families continue to press them for sensible legislation.

    Still another rose and read a deathbed plea by a 17 year old for his community to devote itself to doing good for others. The kid had a rare cancer and dictated his letter before he died, and it is read each year at the start of a bike event to raise funds for pediatric disease fighting.

    And, yesterday there was quite a bit of talk about people contacting their reps about the NSA. Congresspeople are now gearing up for investigations and hearings- some into Snowden, some into the NSA and privacy. Reps were holding up their phones asking the head of the NSA under what pending investigation and what suspicions allowed them to collect their phone metadata.

    I had friends (and my sister) who work for congress folk. One of the big duties of the staff is to tally public support for and against things, and tell the elected person how the citizens are responding. If they get a lot of letters or calls, they respond.

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