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Old 07-17-2018, 09:41 AM
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JohnT JohnT is online now
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Calling your Senators/Representatives - advice and experiences.

(I'm starting this thread so we can give advice, talk about our activities, and more. In the Clusterfuck thread Minds Eye, Watering asked for advice but I didn't want to toss this in that pot, to get lost as the clusterfuck keeps rolling along.)

In light of recent events, some have asked how to best contact your Senators/Representatives. IMHO, and according to all the politicos I know, calling is the most effective as people who take time to call are almost-certain voters. Emailing is 2nd best, but can be ignored/deleted/not tallied. Twitter and other social media is routinely ignored. Letters are good, but not timely and you're never certain if they were even delivered, much less read.

So, how do you call? Who do you call?

1. Call only your Reps/Senators. It may make you feel good to call Mitch McConnell, but if you don't live in KY, you will be ignored.

2. Stay polite. Don't swear. Don't make threats (exceptions include "I won't vote for you", "I am organizing against you", i.e., voting/organizing activities are fine, but "you will be first up against the wall" is not.)

3. State your name and city and/or zip code. The last is optional, but many track their calls by location.

4. Write down what you want to say. An outline. A statement. Something. Don't wing this.

5. State the topic of what you're going to talk about before you get into the body of your statement. The person you're talking to keeps track of what constituents call about. Telling them what you're calling about makes this task easier for them.

(You will be talking to staff members, btw. Make their job easier, not harder. You want to be heard, right? Don't go on a multi-topic rant (see pt 4).)

6. Keep it short. Just as you don't want to read a block 'o text, they will... being human... tune you out if you go on a 10-minute treatise on how gun control will/will not destroy America. 2, 3 minutes max.

7. State your position and why.

8. State what you expect of the Rep/Senator.

9. State the consequences of them voting against your interests. Also, if you're a current supporter, tell them this.

10. Conclude. Thank the person. Ask if they need any more information. Hang up.

I'm a big script person so I always work from one. A typical example is below...

"Good morning, my name is JohnT and I live in San Antonio, zip code 12345. I would like to leave a statement for the Senator about the topic of Trump's visit with Putin in Helsinki. Are you the one I speak to?"

(Repeat above, excepting the last sentence of course, if you get transferred.)

"Thank you. One of the great foreign policy successes of my lifetime was when America used her economic and moral authority to defeat the Soviet Union back in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Imagine then, my disgust at the President's actions yesterday, actions which only make sense if this man is either morally compromised, or in debt, to the leader of the country which we beat 20 years ago, a country which once famously vowed to bury us.

Given that Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB agent of the USSR, it is readily apparent that he is working his revenge upon the United States in an effort to secure his place in history. And it is also, especially given what happened yesterday, readily apparent that he is using Donald Trump as the instrument of his revenge... and that Donald Trump is powerless to prevent this or, worse, is a witting accomplice. At this point it is a distinction without a difference.

To that end, I expect the Senator to stand up for America, for <State>, and for us citizens and demand or work for a censure of the President. I also expect the Senator to protect the Mueller investigation as the truth will come out, one way or another, and... akin to Putin... the Senator will want to be on the right side of history.

In short, the Senator swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the United States of America. All of his constituents demand s/he live up to their oath.

If the Senator decides to side with the Trump-Putin axis the consequences will be dire. In addition to losing my financial and electoral support for the future, I will support primary challengers to the Senator and, should the Senator win the primary, I will support the other parties candidate. I will also organize my friends and family to vote against the Senator. In addition, the Senators place in history will be assured as an enabler to the greatest foreign policy coup since Germany put Lenin on a train and sent him to Russia.

In conclusion: the least the Senator can do is support a Censure of the President of the United States of America. If the Senator doesn't, I will work for the Senators removal via democratic means.

This concludes my statement. Do you have any questions or need anything else?

Thank you. Goodbye."

Anyway, I call Cruz and Cornyn regularly. I once organized a phone campaign about the children concentration camps and, a week later, Cruz was reported working with Pelosi to end it. Did our calls do this? I don't know, but if we didn't call, nobody would know where we stand.

Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, and more!
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:53 AM
Mind's Eye, Watering Mind's Eye, Watering is offline
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Very well done!

Thank you.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:28 AM
Defensive Indifference Defensive Indifference is offline
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I've called my representative and both senators a couple of times. I pretty much followed JohnT's points. I made my declaration a little shorter and ended with something like "What can the Senator do about this?"

I've also been trying to interact with them on social media, posting my comments to them on Facebook and Twitter. I'm not sure if that goes anywhere. My representative is a Republican, and often when I comment on her social media presence, I tag the Democrat I'm supporting in the election against her. Once or twice he's chimed in. I hope that kills two birds with one stone.

Oh, and when I call, I call both their DC and local offices. I dunno if that helps much, but I figure I might get a little more traction with the local person.

It's been a couple days since I've called any of them. I need to call today.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:53 AM
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From what I've heard, you shouldn't bother to give any arguments at all. They've heard all of them already, on both sides. Just get straight to the point: "I support X; I think you should vote Yes on bill Y and No on Bill Z".
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:02 AM
Mind's Eye, Watering Mind's Eye, Watering is offline
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Based on Aspenglow's input, I wrote and sent the following letter to my two Senators and one Representative:


*House Republican*
Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Sir:

Your continued inaction in the face of such overwhelming evidence of Trump being compromised by the Russians is wholly unacceptable.

If you fail to act, I will not only be voting against you and all your cohorts in the upcoming elections, but I will make sure that as many of my friends and family members do the same.

You swore an oath to defend their country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic and I, as your constituent, expect you to honor that oath.

I expect you to act and vote in accordance with the things Chuck Schumer called on Congress to do in his public statement made to Congressional Republicans on Monday, July 16.
Mr. Schumer outlined four specific actions that he said Republicans should take:

• Increase sanctions on Russia

• Demand that Trump’s national security team testify before Congress

• Defend the Department of Justice and other intelligence agencies

• Demand that Trump press Putin to extradite the 12 Russian intelligence agents who were indicted on Friday by Mr. Mueller

Senator John McCain called the news conference between the two leaders "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.
No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant..."


Representative xxx, you are not fit to govern in any capacity if you continue to not act on the "in-our-faces" collusion between Trump and the Russians.

America is watching you and your Republican colleagues.


Regards,


Mind's Eye, Watering
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:17 AM
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FWIW I always heard that a letter is better. Email is too easy, so they get a ton of it. Phone calls take too long (of my time) - write the letter, make it business-like and brief, and let them pass it from hand to hand until it gets to the junior staffer who keeps count.

Type it (nobody wants to struggle thru my scrawl), correctly address it, put your return address on the letter itself, and mention the bill you want him to vote For or Against by number. Then a brief description of your reasons for saying so, thank him or her for his time, and

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:41 AM
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Phone calls are free and certain. Letters cost money and are less certain. The idea that it takes longer to make a call than it does to type, print out, sign, address and seal an envelope, and then mail it doesn't match anybodies real-world experience.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:46 AM
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Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is online now
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The OP has it right; that's pretty much how I make phone calls and write letters to me elected officials.

I did curse twice yesterday when I called Sen. Heller's office. I apologized to the staffer and thanked them for their patience with me but I was very upset by Trump's press conference.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:52 AM
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Nice job, Mind's Eye, Watering. Glad my comments were helpful.

I think it matters less how you contact them than that you do actually contact them.

My understanding is that even if your letter/email/phone call is never specifically read/heard by the representative him/herself, the representative uses them as a finger in the wind to determine how their constituencies feel about current events. They figure that for every communication they receive that states a particular position, there are a large number of constituents who feel the same way but who didn't get in touch. (200? 500? Can't recall the actual figure.) So even if your letter gets sorted into a pile of "Happy," "Pissed" or "Really Pissed," you're making a difference just by getting in touch.

Again, good onya for doing your bit.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspenglow View Post
Again, good onya for doing your bit.
Aye; democracy is a participatory sport, after all.
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Old 07-18-2018, 02:19 AM
Raynard the fox Raynard the fox is offline
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I have gone to DC for vacation a few times and every time I have called my senators/ house reps office and asked for a meeting ahead of time. Did I meet them in person “hell no” I am a nobody. Best I got one time was Barbara’s boxers chief of staff. But I have asked them all what carries the most weight. As Aspenglow stated they do weight different communication differently. Right or wrong. An in person visit at the DC office or even the local office in the district or state holds the most weight as in they figure if someone comes in to talk about something at least another 1000 must hold this view.

Next I was told a hand written letter holds the next amount of weight and yes A letter that is pen and paper. After that is phone calls from people in the district or state, and they do try to verify if you call is from there.

Typed letters or emails are iffy due to the large amount of them they get. I was told this because the 2 California senators I had said they get many thousands of letters and emails a day that are obviously form letters and no where near the staff to go through them all and tell which is which.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
(I'm starting this thread so we can give advice, talk about our activities, and more.
Cue applause!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynard the fox View Post
Typed letters ... are iffy due to the large amount of them they get.
Given my appalling handwriting, that's me screwed.

I've written to various MPs and Ministers on various matters. Only two stand out: a letter to the Speaker (of the House of Commons, John Bercow) resulted in the snootiest, most arrogant, response I've ever received; and a letter to Anne Begg, my local MP, after her defeat in 2015, thanking her for having been my MP resulted in a very nice personal letter. I asked her to stay on as the Labour candidate for the next election which I felt was coming soon, given the small Tory majority, but she declined.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:56 AM
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This is excellent advice, I would add that you do not have to wait for crisis level issues to contact a politician. I have contacted representatives/senators on the state and federal level for more mundane issues, and have varying degrees of response.

Most recently I sent a detailed email to my congressional rep. about an issue with the local post office and their handling of passport applications. I was rational, praising the usual good work of the USPS that goes unthanked, but very critical of both location of a post office and the way in which passport applications were handled by staff of the USPS. A couple of weeks later I received a call from a staffer and we talked at length about the issues I wrote about. Whether or not anything changes I do not know, I do know I have brought a local issue to the attention of someone who can press for changes.

Communicating with staff is fine. They are the crafters of policy and legislation anyways. Always be polite, although firm is ok too. I have had a staffer thank me when vehemently disagreeing a position I did not cuss throughout the call. I work in state government now, and despite what some want to believe, it is those who show up that get to shape what happens. Individuals do change policy. Maybe not always to the degree you want, but it works.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:54 AM
Mind's Eye, Watering Mind's Eye, Watering is offline
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Hand written, huh? Gonna need to practice a bit...
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Old 07-18-2018, 02:40 PM
Urbanredneck Urbanredneck is offline
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I dont know about phone calls but I do know when you go in for a meeting you have or at least should have something in your hand. Ex.

!. What is the current law.
2. What is it you want changed.
3. What will it cost.
4. What are the laws in neighboring states.
5. Names of respected members of the community that support the law.
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Old 07-18-2018, 02:45 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynard the fox View Post
I have gone to DC for vacation a few times and every time I have called my senators/ house reps office and asked for a meeting ahead of time. Did I meet them in person “hell no” I am a nobody. Best I got one time was Barbara’s boxers chief of staff. But I have asked them all what carries the most weight. As Aspenglow stated they do weight different communication differently. Right or wrong. An in person visit at the DC office or even the local office in the district or state holds the most weight as in they figure if someone comes in to talk about something at least another 1000 must hold this view.

Next I was told a hand written letter holds the next amount of weight and yes A letter that is pen and paper. After that is phone calls from people in the district or state, and they do try to verify if you call is from there.

Typed letters or emails are iffy due to the large amount of them they get. I was told this because the 2 California senators I had said they get many thousands of letters and emails a day that are obviously form letters and no where near the staff to go through them all and tell which is which.
Thanks for this advice! I'm going to DC in September and I think I will ask to meet one of my Senators, I'd be fine meeting with a staffer.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:34 PM
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My kid worked in 2 US Senator's offices answering the phone. They work very hard to take every call and listen to every caller. However, that does not mean that they pass on the minute details of the callers arguments, instead it's more like that they keep a tally. So, state your subject, your yes/no opinion, and keep your arguments short and sweet.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:06 AM
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You'all only contact your rep's for politics? What about state level?

I lobby rep's too (email), but I've got an equal number of hits where I've talked to the office because I've got trouble with the law. For example, "how do I get a copy of my police report (used for employment checks)".

The police station just told me "you can't". They concentrate more on arresting people than on explaining the law. So I go down the block and talk to a constituency office. The nice man behind the desk makes one phone call and he's got the correct answer.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:38 PM
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I emailed my rep (Lynn Jenkins) and one senator (Jerry Moran) the other night. I had my wife "snot-check" it for me. As I told her, I want it to sound urgent, but not hysterical. I wrote it out ahead of time then just copied and pasted into the "contact me" page on their websites. Basically I urged them to do what they were elected and sworn to do, which is to defend the Constitution, not protect their own party at any cost.

My other senator (Pat Roberts)'s contact me page appeared to be broken. The link from the front page didn't go anywhere. Coincidence? Who knows.

The only other time I've emailed Jerry Moran was to thank him for being one of the few GOP senators to support hearings for Merrick Garland's SCOTUS nomination. Unfortunately he back-pedaled so fast on that I just about got whiplash.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:51 PM
Apollyon Apollyon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind's Eye, Watering View Post
Hand written, huh? Gonna need to practice a bit...
Alternatively you could craft your letter by cutting and pasting words from magazines and newspapers. I understand that missives of this nature receive special scrutiny.
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Old 01-14-2019, 02:59 PM
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Would like to note that with the near-certainty that Trump is an active foreign agent, this is a pretty good time to call your Senators and Reps, especially those on the (R) side.
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