Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Remind Congress Who's the Boss

Now that a new Congress is about to take over, it's time to become a citizen activist and remind them who they work for. Like it or not, this was the most effective strategy of the GOP in gaining and keeping power for so long. They had their trained little minions calling immediately every time an issue came close to a vote. They had letter writers composing form letters from mass-distributed GOP talking points for the sheep to sign and mail off in their names. They had emails that all the sheep had to do was cut and paste and send from their own accounts. Most of the time, all the text was written and all the obedient little sheep had to do was sign their names and not question anything too closely.

When you actually add up the numbers of people who did this it wasn't a whole lot. It was, as the statisticians like to say, a representative sample of public opinion. But it was a sample that was consistent and could be depended upon to raise their voices in order to influence their congressional representatives. It is the way the system was meant to work, and when there are two or more sides expressing an opinion it works well.

But in the last few years it has not been representative of the population as a whole. Many people gave up and believed their voices didn't matter and that Congress only listened to people who had large wads of cash to throw their way. If this was true, then how come a small segment of the population consisting mostly of homophobic, warmongering religious fanatics came to represent America? Because they were loud and others were not. Because they took the time to make those phone calls, sign their names to those letters, and cut and paste those emails. And the rest of the people did not.

It's time for that to change. I'm going to make it very easy for you. Here's what you need to do:
1. Find out the name, phone number, and email of your representatives. Here is a good place to start:

2. Call once a month and email once a week. Surely what you believe and want is worth the five minutes it will take to do both those tasks. That's ten minutes a month to let your voice be heard and to have a hand in shaping the kind of government we will all have to live with.
If you need a form letter for either email and/or snail mail, here is a simple template for you to use:


Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressperson _________:

I am writing to bring to your attention a matter of great importance to me as a voter and as a resident of your district.

(insert a short description here of your concern, whether it is Global Warming, the Draft, the Iraq War, Corporate Sleaze, or any other matter you want them to move to the top of their agenda. Keep it brief and keep it to just one topic per email, phone call, and letter. If you want to write about the war AND Global Warming, send two different emails/letters/phone calls. You letters have a much better reception this way.)

Thank you for your consideration. If you would like to respond to these concerns, here is my


phone number:


Very truly yours,

Here are some hints:

Before you call, write out your statement. Usually your call will be taken by an aide who will make a note of which side you fall on. Make it brief and to the point. Keep in mind that a phone call from you on a particular issue carries more weight than an email and you should call once a month.

Emails or letters are the next best thing. This is a great way to keep your issues fresh in the pile your representative must deal with. Once a week will allow you to thoroughly cover an issue of the week.

Petitions are the least respected of the communications sent to politicians. Everyone and their dog sends them thousands.

Remember, it is OUR government, and it up to US to make sure they know who their employers are.

Image from Ursine Logic Changing hearts and minds one t-shirt at a time


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