Last week when I wrote After the Marches, Now What? I spoke of creating a daily routine for continued action. Phone calls are at the core of that practice. Making sure your elected officials are representing you is part of the democratic process. While some people think calling elected officials is pointless, I tend to disagree. It lets your Senators and Congress people know that you’re paying attention and gives them feedback on what they should be doing. If you’re stressed out by current events, these daily phone calls will help energetically for you to be in action on a regular basis. It will help increase your peace, fight fears and build your determination too.
Do not bother with online petitions or emailing.
Think about all the emails that you ignore on a daily basis! Online contact basically gets immediately ignored, and letters pretty much get thrown in the trash unless you have a particularly strong emotional story – but even then it might not worth the time it took you to craft that letter.
First, get organized. Find the numbers of both your Senators and Congress person and put them into your phone’s address book. Make sure to have both DC and regional numbers.
Make phone calls part of your daily practice. Like brushing your teeth, it takes a few minutes, but is super important.
Plan to make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative. Calls are what all the congresspeople pay attention to. Every single day, the Senior Staff and the Senator get a report of the 3 most-called-about topics for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics. They’re also sorted by zip code and area code.
Give them your zip code. They won’t always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them, so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them, since they’ll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.
Make it personal, if you can. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/whatever” or “I’m a teacher, and I am appalled by Betsy DeVos,” or “as a single mother” or “as a white, middle class woman,” or whatever.
Less is more. Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don’t go down a whole list – they’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days, but it doesn’t really matter…even if there’s not a vote coming up in the next week, call anyway. It’s important that they just keep getting calls.
Be clear on what you want – “I’m disappointed that the Senator…” or “I want to thank the Senator for their vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in _____ way is the wrong decision for our state because…” Don’t leave any ambiguity.
Persistence pays off. They may get to know your voice/get sick of you – it doesn’t matter. The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they’re really sick of you, they’ll be gone in 6 weeks.
Are you shy? If you hate being on the phone & feel awkward, don’t worry…there are a bunch of scripts (Indivisible has some). After a few days of calling, it starts to feel a lot more natural. Put the 6 numbers in your phone all under Politician, which makes it really easy to click down the list each day.
Don’t be silent. Create a daily practice. You’ll feel better.