It has been a year since Hillary lost the election, and those last twelve months have been eye opening to say the least. It was the first election I had a chance to vote in, and I got really excited about the race up and down the ballot. So when the election ended, I was looking to find a way to stay engaged. That’s when I learned to call my representatives.
I’m registered to vote in Massachusetts, but since I live in Chicago for most of the year, it can be hard to keep up with local politics. In the run up to the election last year, I learned about every vote from the propositions (Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana this year) to my town’s board of selectmen to, of course, the president.
It was an awesome way to educate myself on the issues relevant to my town and about the stances of those who are now representing my interests on a local and national scale. Although I was happy with my local representatives (my girl Elizabeth Warren), like many people I was less than thrilled with our president.
More than a little concerned about the state of our nation, I figured I could put all that new knowledge to work and started calling my representatives. TheSkimm made it easier than ever to follow along with issues on a national scale. Politico has both an Illinois Playbook and a Massachusetts Playbook newsletter that make it easy to follow along.
I now call my representatives every time I put on a full face of makeup or dye my hair. It helps me feel like I’m not wasting the time, while still being fun. This is my guide to calling your representatives.
Who Are Your Representatives?
Finding your congressmen is easy. There are tons of websites that will provide the information you to access them from their phone numbers to their twitter accounts.
Oh God, But Phone Calls
I know, I know. There’s a reason why I always order on Grubhub instead of calling the restaurant. I was petrified of phone calls. I will say that phone anxiety gets better after several phone interviews, and this definitely helps. Once you do it once, it’s infinitely easier because you know what to expect.
So my senators are usually to busy to have a real person answer the phone, so with them I just leave messages. The first time I called my representative, a real person picked up and I had no idea what to do. I had been so focused on actually making the call that I didn’t think about what would happen if someone were to actually answer.
So What Do You Say
You need to know what you’re going to say before you call.
You should include the following in every call:
- Your Name
- Your Zip Code
- If you want a response
- One specific piece of legislation would like to support or oppose
- Thank you!
They need to know that your are constituent, so they know your opinion matters to their reelection, which is why they need your zip code. Most aides will ask if you want a response, so it’s easiest if you let them know you don’t need one in your message or opening.
The more specific you can be about the legislation you would like to support or oppose, the better it is for the representative and aides to categorize the information. For example, saying “I’m for gun control” is less valuable to the aide and representative than saying “I’d like Rep. Moulton to support repealing the Dickey Amendment.”
In an ideal world, you can even track when votes for issues you care about are upcoming so you can ask they do it on a time frame. It can be a pain to follow, but there are resources like GovTrack.com that provides information on upcoming votes and even lets you track them. Just like goals work best when they’re actionable with a specified time scale, it’s easiest for representatives and aides when you can help them make sure your representative is at the votes you want him or her to be.
You care about more than one piece of legislation and more than one issue! I started calling while I do my makeup or dye my hair because these are fairly time consuming processes that don’t require a lot of brainpower. Make sure they know where you stand on the issue, whether or not they have the same stance, because your opinion matters.
Do you call your representatives regularly? How do you stay active and up to date with our government?