Make a Difference: Let the Right People Know What You Think
It happens all the time. You are watching television, reading a news article, or just talking with friends and suddenly, you’re getting an eye or ear full about an issue or what your elected official is going to do about an issue. If it is something that you care about, you want to respond. The normal, immediate outreach is to go to a comment section or “discuss” with your friend or family. However, if it ends there, you just wasted your time and more importantly failed to make a difference.
Our elected officials represent a variety of opinions. Some you agree with and some you oppose. No matter party affiliation or their inclination, they cannot read your mind. In a representative government, you must let your elected officials know what you want. To elect someone and then never attend a town hall meeting or contact them is essentially allowing them to do whatever they want. Even if you agree with their agenda, contacting them to support their stand lets them know they are doing what you want. We can’t expect our elected officials to follow our wishes, if we don’t tell them what they are.
The 85th Texas Legislative is in session and it is a great time to reach out to your Representative or Senator about the issues that concern you from taxes to education to healthcare. While there are many ways to communicate, some or better than others.
According to Emily Ellsworth, a writer and former Congressional staffer, the most effective way is the telephone call, because phone calls can’t be ignored. Social Media may not be checked very frequently and because of the amount of mail, letters don’t get individual attention. However, phone calls cannot be put off or ignored. Your opinion will not be lost in a deluge, but registered with a person.
Here’s a step by step guide to making a phone call to your elected official. Remember you can and should call both of your U.S. Senators and your Congressional Representative, as well as your State Representative and Senator. You can contact other officials that hold positions on a committee, party management, or make decisions about which issues will be debated, but unless there are a large volume of calls, it has a limited impact.
- Pick an issue
- No need to psyche yourself up. The phone call will be quick, as in maybe 2 minutes. You aren’t going to be persuading someone, just put yourself on a tally.
- Find your elected representative phone number. Go here to get your Federal and State Representative. Try the local office numbers first. Save the number to save yourself time for future contacts.
- Use a script. Know what you are going to say, so you don’t forget any important information.
a. Make sure to say you are a constituent and have your zip code, just in case they ask for it.
c. Here is a generic streamlined script: “Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a constituent of Rep./Sen. __________ calling about a concern I have. I am calling regarding, (insert issue here). I (support or do not support) this issue and hope (insert elected official’s name) will stand with me. Thank you for your hard work answering the phone and for your time speaking with me.”
d. If you are leaving a message on voicemail, be sure to leave your full address.
- Remember be concise and courteous. No matter how passionate you are, being rude or using foul language hurts your call. The people answering the phone are not there for you to vent at and will just hang up on you.
- Here’s what to expect: Mostly, the person answering the phone will simply say they will pass along your concern. However, they might read a prepared statement or say that your representative isn’t going to take action. They aren’t going to argue with you, so simply restate your stand and that you just wanted to let them know.
- Thank the person who took your call.
- Done! Reward yourself for being a great citizen!
The more you call, the easier it gets. You might even connect with the staffer who takes many of your calls.
Shy Persons Guide to Calling Representatives. (2016, November 18). Retrieved from http://actionfriday.tumblr.com/post/153358069831/shy-persons-guide-to-calling-representatives
Ravenscraft, E. (2016, November 15). The Best Ways to Contact Your Congresspeople, From a Former Staffer. Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/the-best-ways-to-contact-your-congress-people-from-a-f-1788990839
Reaching Out to Public Officials. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://familiesusa.org/reaching-out
Allen, P. (2017, January 30). 5 Calls Makes Calling Your Government Representatives as Simple as Possible. Retrieved from: http://lifehacker.com/5-calls-makes-calling-your-government-representatives-a-1791842858
Halperin, M. (2017, January 26). Check Out 5 Calls, Take 5 Minutes, Make 5 Calls. Retrieved from: http://flavorwire.com/598271/daily-engagement-check-out-5-calls-take-5-minutes-make-5-calls