If you are like me, you’ve probably spent hours over the last few months writing letters and making phone calls to your Senators and Congressman to voice your opposition to the political firestorm taking place in Washington DC. If you are like me, you are also probably experiencing some Resistance Fatigue, and frustration, due to busy signals, message machines that are full, staffers who are tired of hearing your voice, or hand cramps from writing so many letters.
To combat this fatigue and to make sure that my messages are getting through, I have developed a system for communicating with my congressional delegation that is fast, easy and effective. I am sharing it in the hopes that it will help ease your fatigue and frustration too so you can keep up the communications and get back to your life. It’s a system that works—I spent many years working in Congress and the Alaska Legislature, so I know how these communications are handled by the staff once they arrive in legislative offices.
First, because your congressional delegation is receiving an avalanche of communications these days, you need to present your views in a way that can be quickly tallied. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your long, eloquent, beautifully-written defense of the NEA (or other causes) will not be read. It will be skimmed.
All your representative wants to know is:
- Do you support or oppose this issue?
- Are you a constituent?
If you give them this information in a form they can quickly tally, your message will get through. Think of your communication as a vote. (Save your eloquent arguments for editorials, blogs, Facebook and other forums.)
Second, each communication needs to contain one issue and one issue only. If you write a letter that addresses multiple issues, your views won’t get tallied. This poses a problem, considering the number of horrible proposals put forth each day by the current President. This adds up to a lot of letters and phone calls, which are proving to be time consuming and expensive.
If an issue is urgent—i.e., if a vote is happening today—then make a call. (Put your representatives on speed dial.) If it’s not, then send a written message, but not by email. (Email communications can get lost; written communications don’t.)
Here is a system for written communications that is fast, cheap, easy—and effective:
Next: Dig out those piles of address labels that you get in the mail from the March of Dimes, the ASCPA, Wildlife Federation and other charitable organizations! Finally, there is a use for them!
If you have a printer that can print on postcards (I don’t) this will be even easier because you can eliminate the cutting and pasting!
If you have two (or more) people in your household who agree with your position, attach a return address label for each of them so your postcard communication will get counted twice in the office tallies.
The staffer in your congressional office who is tasked with tallying constituent communications will appreciate this more than you will ever know. They won’t have to open an envelope to read your message. All those paper cuts and piles of ripped envelopes will be gone! (Opening stacks of envelopes is a drag—ask any office worker.) They also won’t have to wade through your letter to figure out your position. They will be able to quickly tally your position and move on.
Once I set up this system, it made my congressional communications fast and easy. It enables me to keep up my activism…and to get back to my desk to do what I love most, which is writing plays.