Have You Ever Called Your Representative?

I almost called my representative last week.

I won’t get into the politics of it, but there was a piece of legislation I had a strong feeling about, and I was compelled to voice my opinion.

I wasn’t sure what to do, though. I’ve never called my representative, so I had to first search around for the number. Okay, that wasn’t so hard.

Next, I wasn’t sure what to say once I got on the phone. Should I just state my opinion? Do I say it to the first person who picks up? Is it better to leave a message so I can just say my bit and move on? So I watched a few YouTube videos about it and read this blog/comic. Each had a different approach.

Last, I had to figure out who my local representative is. That’s when I learned that they are actually of the political party against the legislation I was worried about, so I realized that I’d be preaching to the choir. So I didn’t call. Maybe I should have anyway.

Regardless of where you live or your personal politics, I’m curious if you’ve ever called your representative. What was your approach, and how was the experience? Did you feel like you made a difference? I’ve heard that calling has a much bigger impact than writing a letter, sending an e-mail, or doing anything on social media.

16 thoughts on “Have You Ever Called Your Representative?”

  1. You should still call now. Representatives love hearing from their supporters thanking them for doing what they were elected to do.

    Weird Segway, but going to throw this out here. Money definitely speaks in politics, but it takes a lot less than anyone realizes. For most House of Representatives members, giving just a couple hundred dollars will often get you a personal call from them thanking you and asking about your priorities. I once gave $500 to my Governor and helped get 9 other people to give $500 each to get an entire table at an event with him. I still get a call from him about every 2 years asking my opinion on how he is handling what I told him were my priorities.

    Don’t be afraid to get involved. It doesn’t take much time or money and many politicians actually do listen, even if you are not aligned with them.

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      • Hmm, I don’t call them much. When I do, 90% of the time I get a person manning the phones and usually a canned response, but, based on when I have talked with many politicians, they do get the information fed to them and they do appreciate both positive and negative feedback.

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  2. I would say if you feel strongly, always call/email! (Heck, even if you don’t feel that strongly, feel free.) Even if they agree with you, imagine how much more validated they are (and their arguments are) if they can point to the 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people who called to express their opinion. Their job is to represent their constituents, ideally they know what those citizens think and are wanting the proof to back up their own opinions! I know even at my job, (not elected but government nonetheless), I tell everyone to call or email to report an issue on the greenways, because if I am trying to get a partner municipality to fix it, showing them 100 of their citizens that want it bad is a WAY different story than saying I think they should fix it. Good job looking it up and preparing anyway, use it! I don’t do it nearly as often as I should, but I have to think there’s no downside to calling, and the numbers adding up can be very helpful.

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    • Emma: That’s a great point about validating their stance (and I probably shouldn’t assume that they share my stance, even within their party).

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  3. I call. I hate it, because I am awkward and weird in phone interactions. I live in New York City and am super duper liberal, as are my reps, and I still call.

    2 reasons.

    1, it’s my right as a female citizen, and that right isn’t even 100 years old. How crazy is that?!?

    2, as a marketer, I appreciate the consumer feedback loop. If I’m doing a good job of getting my message across, I appreciate the people who respond and tell me that, so I am happy to do the same. Yes, I know my rep and senators are not voting for the Obamacare repeal, and they want the Jones Act suspended, but I want to tell them that I agree. Calling does that.

    I call the local office (not D.C.), state my opinion and hang up. It’s pretty easy. Sometimes I email if I can’t handle the emotional investment of calling. That’s okay too.

    I NEVER post my opinion on social media. That’s a black hole of thought death. Don’t go there 🙂

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    • Good point. Always call local, not DC office. It makes a big difference.

      Also note, you can even stop by local offices if you have the time. That will make an even bigger impact.

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    • That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing, Neeraja. (1) is indeed crazy, and (2) you’re totally right about the feedback loop. I should know this. 🙂

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  4. I’ve been doing that a lot recently. I never had before but living in Arizona has changed that. While I don’t know if I made an actual difference, I’d like to think that my calls along with the many other calls being made, did indeed make a difference. It took a lot of patience because often I couldn’t get through or voice mail boxes were full but kept calling anyways.

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  5. I have, and generally you get a staffer that’s filling in boxes on a form, To make their lives easier, if there is a bill that you are calling about, be able to reference it by number/name, and to say if you want the rep to vote for or against it, and a synopsis of why. Generally they tally all this up, and give the info to their boss.

    Reply
  6. Jamey,

    To Neeraja’s excellent second point, definitely take the time to call…even if you are simpatico with the political party’s view, they need to know they have support from their constituency, as well.

    Cheers,
    Joe

    Reply
  7. I’ve called and written emails. When calling, you usually just leave a comment with the staffer who answered. I’ve had the best luck with reading a statement for that. I hate being on the phone and am terrified I’m going to mess it up. It’s useful if you want your opinion tallied, but I doubt they’ll get a lot of nuance. Sometimes I called outside of hours to leave a message if I can’t deal with talking to someone.

    I like writing when I have a long message or have a specific concern or list of reasons to support or oppose something. I emailed my rep to express strong concerns about the impact on my community of legislation (faa privatization) they were sponsoring. I got a email back from a staffer/manager that I could contact to discuss it with. I didn’t contact him in response, but I know that that email was read and acknowledged, and my rep seemed to give a little more detail about his plans in later interviews on the subject, so I think I had some impact.

    My rep sometimes votes against party (he can afford to as a senior rep). Since I complain sometimes, I try to email him to thank him when he votes how I’d like him to. I check his Facebook page sometimes and he gets all kinds of comments there. It can’t hurt for him to get thoughtful positive feedback.

    Reply
    • Leona: Thank you so much for sharing your experience! This is giving me a lot of insight into how I can more actively engage our elected officials.

      Reply

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