Tags: Letter Writing Sunday • Politics
In the past two days, two people have asked me, “But Elizabeth, after I call my Congressperson, what do I say?
I’m glad more people are interested in contacting their representatives and this seems like such a responsibility. I don’t really want to tell people what to say – it seems so personal to me. But since people have been asking me, here’s a few suggestions. Notice, this post is dated, in case I write more posts like these in the future.
If you haven’t yet, read the Indivisible guide. I know it’s 26 pages. But. Read it.
Ok, onto calling your representative:
First, know who you are calling. If you live in one of the 50 states, you have one Congressional Representative and two Senators in Washington DC. You also have one state assembly member and one state senator representing you to your state government. [Unless you live in Nebraska, then you just have one legislator]. You have a governor. There’s probably also people who represent you at the local level. In New York City, there’s my city councilman and the Mayor. When I lived on Long Island, I had village trustees, a village mayor, a town councilman, a town supervisor, a county legislator and a county executive. Local government varies wildly but most have websites where you can find out who represents you – and since many localities in the United States have local elections in odd years – the people who will be knocking on your door this summer and fall are the ones who will represent you the closest to where you live.
Second, pick a specific issue that the person you are calling has direct influence over. Learn about the issue and find out who votes on what before you call. For example, your Senator can’t help you with a pothole (thus why you should learn the nitty gritty of your local government). And your congressperson doesn’t vote on Supreme Court nominees (only Senators do).
When you call, make it short and sweet:
Hello, my name is __________, and I live in (town) (zip code). I’m calling to ask (the Congressman/Senator/Assemblywoman/Councilman) to vote (Yes/No) on __________. Thank you
But, you may ask, what goes in that last blank? I hesitate so much to do this because I really think people should decide for themselves, but here’s my personal suggestions, and links which support my position. Pick one or two of these at a time. You can always call back the next day with more requests.
Call your Senators and tell them:
Vote No on Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State
What Rex Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil track record tells us
What Tillerson Could Mean for US. Foreign Policy and Women’s Empowerment Programs
A bunch of military veterans have taken over Sen. McCain’s office to protest Rex Tillerson
Vote No on Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
Read the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Sessions’s 1986 federal nomination
My previous post on this
Vote No on Betsy Devos for Secretary of Education
The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy
Vote No on Steven Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury
Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Nominee, Failed to Disclose $100 Million in Assets
Vote No on Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services
Senate Dem [Kirsten Gillibrand] asks for SEC investigation of Trump HHS pick
Tom Price can’t recall voting to allow employers to fire women for using birth control. Democrats help him remember.
Vote No on Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator
Scott Pruitt Criticizes Environmental Rules
Call your Congressperson and tell them:
Vote no on any budget that the National Endowment for the Arts, or efforts to fight climate change like the Paris Climate Agreement
Report: Trump Team Preparing $10.5 Trillion in Budget Cuts
Also, tell them to vote no on these bills. I found them all on congress.gov you can read the text of all of these bills online.
Vote no on HR 217 Defunding Planned Parenthood
Vote no on HR 175 Repealing The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
Vote no on HR 34 which would get rid of Gun Free School Zones
Vote no on HR 36 which would ban abortion at 20 weeks
Vote no on HR 49 which would allow oil drilling on the Alaskan coastal plain
If you live in New York State:
Call your State Assemblyperson and State Senator and tell them to vote yes on The New York Health Act.
It’s Time for New York State to Pass Universal Healthcare
If you live in Indiana:
Call your State Assemblyperson and State Senator and tell them to vote no on Senate Bill 285 which “would require law enforcement to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary.””
Lawmakers Delay Vote On Bill To Clear Protesters From Roads
If you live in North Dakota:
Call your State Assemblyperson and State Senator and tell them to vote no on bills that crimalize protests or “exempt a driver from liability if they unintentionally injure or kill a pedestrian obstructing traffic on a public road or highway.” I tried to find the names of these bills but the ND Legislature website appears to require being a resident of the state to track a bill. If you’re from ND, let me know. Here’s some sources:
North Dakota’s experience with pipeline protests spurs bills
Pipeline Protesters Decry North Dakota Bills That ‘Criminalize’ Protests
Remember to be polite. You might be angry, but you are speaking to a staffer whose job it is to talk to the public all day. It’s basic human decency to be nice to them.
After you call, tell people who you called and what you said and why. Use social media or just bring it up in conversation. You will encourage others to do the same. If you find out your representative is planning to vote how you asked them to, thank them, and tell your friends that too.