It’s cliche and probably won’t accomplish much, but contacting your representative can help move us forward as a country. To make some progress.
It’s one way to move to a better future for the country.
We live in a Democracy and that’s how it’s supposed to work.
And you are doing your part to help hold the government accountable.
Why not give it a shot and see what happens?
If something bothers you, contact your representative at the federal or state level, ideally both. Unfortunately, most representatives don’t have a simple e-mail address you can use. You’ll have to submit a form where they harvest a bunch of your information, or you can call and jump through the robot answering hoops, but it’s a small price to pay to support a vibrant Democracy.
You can find contact information about your representative at the federal level (House of Representatives and Senate) at Congress.gov and putting in your address and other information.
To find out how to contact your representatives at the state level you’ll have to Google it or visit your state government website and poke around until you find a contact state representatives page.
Unfortunately, the representatives don’t make it easy for us to leave feedback – you’ll have to put in a bunch of information so that they can send you spam later (if all the data collection bothers you as much as it bothers me, you can voice your displeasure in your correspondence). But other than calling the office directly it seems to be the only choice.
By the way the Congress.gov page isn’t super-well designed – ignore the top section about the librarian, there’s a link for the representatives below that.
Need help deciding on which issue to bring up?
With so, so many problems everywhere, it can be hard to focus on just one issue to talk about when contacting your elected official. But focusing on one issue makes it a little easier for the employee that has to process citizen feedback to put your complaint in the appropriate bucket.
Here’s an in-progress article I’m working on taking a look at the biggest problems in America if you want some help coming up with a topic.
If you are concerned about the influence of money on government, Open Secrets has a really useful tool for contacting your national representative. It has a useful script on the biggest issues affecting transparency in political spending and lets you share what the outcome was.
And once you’ve contacted your representative…
Post about your contact on Social Media
If you’re active online, posting about the fact that you contacted your representative online and seeing if anyone else is interested can amplify your concern. Ask your friends if they are concerned about the issue as well and urge them to contact their representative too.
The more people who make their voice heard the harder it is for politicians to ignore them.
If you get an actual answer from your representative (in contrast to the usual boilerplate language about how they care about you), you can also post the response online as well. Share what the response was – if you got one anyway, and if you didn’t you can share that too.
There’s a decent chance your representative’s staff monitors social media, so they might take your concern more seriously if you are visible online. But I don’t know.
At the end of the day, the best use of social media is to drive positive change.
At Least You’re Letting them Know You’re Paying Attention
In theory, when you contact your elected officials, you are letting them know that you are paying attention and that you care about what is happening in your community, state, and country.
If we take it as a leap of faith that the American system functions, then by letting your representatives know what’s important to you and that you are paying attention, there’s a chance
But hey, it’s something.
And in this day and age of social media, elected officials (ok their staff) don’t know how much influence you have. If they blow you off, they don’t know just how pissed off you’ll get and how much you’ll (to quote Obama) pop off at the mouth, so they can at least provide some token response.
(I’ve contacted my representatives a few times and if I got a response it was BS, but hey what can you do).
If you want to feel like you are having more of an impact, you can always get involved with issues with a higher possibility of impact.
Of course, it’s a Whole Rigamarole to Contact Them
Politicians don’t make it easy to contact them. As far as I’ve seen they make you fill out a form with a bunch of questions (website optimization 101, the more fields, the less likely the user will fill them out).
But what bothers me the most is that they make you put in all your details. I have a few problems with that. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if I’ll end up on some “agitator” list or something and I’ll get audited, or pulled over or something.
And they harvest your information.
But at the more basic level, I don’t want to get their BS in the mail. The elected officials are part of either the democratic or republican party and they have a whole system of mailing endless shit to the house. I’m sure you end up on some kind of “politically active” list for advertisers and then share that information with all the other Political Action Committees and all the other groups wasting endless money on election advertising.
I just don’t want that propaganda in the mail. It is wasteful and it shouldn’t be the cost of contacting my representative (who I may or may not like/have voted for).
I shouldn’t get endless junk mail for the rest of my life because I want to contact my representative.
Just because you want to contact them doesn’t mean you want to get inundated with nonsense bs in the mail.
You should be able to opt-out of getting their propaganda when you contact them. You shouldn’t get junk mail just because you contact your representative.
Of course, if you’re a big donor you can just pick up the phone and wouldn’t have to deal with these forms. But for now, we normal folk are stuck with this nonsense until we fix it.
That’s a whole ‘nother issue.
Make it easier to contact elected representatives.
By contacting your elected officials, you are also holding them accountable. They need to know that you are paying attention and that you expect them to represent you and your interests. If they don’t hear from you, they may think that you don’t care about the issues or that you’re not paying attention.
So if you want to make sure your voice is heard and you want to hold your elected officials accountable, be sure to contact them about the issues that matter to you.
You can’t complain about the government if you don’t take the time to contact your representatives about the issues that matter to you. If you want to make a difference, you need to let your voice be heard.
Why not take the time today to reach out?
So how can you effectively voice your opinion to your elected officials? Here are a few tips:
- Find out who represents you. You can usually find this information on your state or local government website.
- Research the issues that are important to you and be prepared to discuss them with your elected officials.
Don’t forget, you have three representatives at the federal level in congress
Two senators and one in the house of Representatives.
At the state level, it varies but you should have at least one state senator and one state representative.
You’ll have to go to the government website of your particular state to find out who they are, I haven’t found a good way to find ALL your representatives.
Not sure what to ask?
Just ask them what their position is on a topic that matters to you, something you don’t like, or something you think should be happening.
If you want some ideas to check out
- Goals – These are the big things we need to aim at to improve the country (and the world).
- Strategies – Here are some things we can do as a country that would help make things Less Bad.
- Problems – Here’s an attempt to identify the biggest problems we’re facing as a country and species.
- Causes – The reasons why the problems exist in the first place.
Will Contacting my Representative Actually do Anything?
I don’t know, probably not the way the government is currently working. As I detail elsewhere on the site, the government doesn’t work, a prime reason why being that the election system is totally messed up.
Problems like Redistricting (aka gerrymandering), the extreme division, the media, and the influence of money in Washington mean that there’s little accountability in Washington, but hey it’s a start.