Reminders about how to focus our energy: Express your own opinion, for yourself, to your own representatives. Discourtesy gets us nowhere. Petitions are not useful.
Barney Frank, who served in Congress himself as a Representative for 32 years, just issued a set of tips to help people use our voices to actually reach our representatives. He reminds us that more people voted against this president than for him. To use our strength in numbers now as citizens, he offered advice and I gratefully share it here.
Here is an excerpt from Frank’s Opinion piece published yesterday:
“Done the right way, communications from citizens can have a significant impact on legislators, even when they claim to be immune to “pressure.” (“Pressure,” in legislative jargon, is the expression of views with which legislators disagree, as opposed to “public opinion” — the term used for sentiments that reinforce their own.)
- Make sure you’re registered to vote — lawmakers check.
- Lawmakers don’t care about people outside of their district.
- The communication must be individual.
- It need not be elaborate or eloquent — it is an opinion to be counted, not an essay. But it will not have an impact unless it shows some individual initiative.
- Know where your representative stands.
- Communicate — even if you and your representative disagree.
- Conflict avoidance is a cherished goal of many elected officials.
- Say “thank you.”
- Enlist the help of friends in other districts.
- Your direct communication with legislators outside your voting area will have no impact. But you do have friends, relatives, associates etc.
…if a legislator who you might have expected to vote differently — e.g. a Republican who votes no on a Trump priority — votes as you have urged, send a thank you.”
Much of Frank’s advice reiterates what is spelled out more fully in the Indivisible publication written by former Hill staffers, again trying to help us target our work and make a sustainable difference with our efforts.
Here’s an encouraging take on the rising Indivisible movement.
Keep at it. Keep the faith. Keep in touch.