To Email or Call, that is the question for many of us.
In the world of political resistance, it seems that both methods of contact are considered somewhat “light lifting,” but of the two, a phone call is by far the most effective method. Be sure to call the Member of Congress who represents you, although it may be tempting to share your opinion with a broader audience.
Why a call rather than an email? It seems to be much easier to ignore an overflowing email box than it is to ignore a full voicemail box.
Activists of all political stripes recommend calling legislators, not just emailing — and certainly not just venting on social media. Several lawmakers, along with those who work for them, said in interviews that … A phone call from a constituent can, indeed, hold more weight than an email, and far outweighs a Facebook post or a tweet. (NY Times 11/22/16)
When you think of it, from the day a Member of Congress is elected, his/her goal seems to be re-election. For members of the House of Representatives, with two year terms, they really are constantly getting ready to campaign or actively campaigning. Your Representatives want to be re-elected, which means that your approval should matter. It matters even more when thousands of like-minded constituents call expressing the same message.
When you call, will you be able to speak with your Representative? Not very likely. Each Member of Congress has dozens of staffers working for him. Your call will likely be answered by an intern or low level staffer. That’s ok. You can ask for a senior staffer, which may or may not work. In any case, the content of your call should be reflected to the Member of Congress; you can ask the staffer how your concerns will be communicated to your Representative. You can call the Representative’s office in Washington DC, or you can call the local, in-state office that each Member of Congress staffs.
Whether you call or email, identify yourself as a constituent and be very clear about the issue which concerns you and the action you are asking your Representative to take. Don’t go on about every issue which may concern you. You can make multiple phone calls about different issues.
Should you use a script or send an email that includes a “form letter” from a national organization? The goal is to convey that the issue you are contacting your Representative about is of great importance to you. So yes, you can use a script, but personalize it as much as possible. If you are working with a form letter, add your own comments and describe how the issue impacts you.
Indivisible offers a valuable guide to resisting the current administration (excerpted here). They offer this chart to what is important to Members of Congress. It’s important to know what’s important to them because that is the route to making a difference.
We know that phone calls are more effective than emails, so we have our work ahead of us. My friend Christy recently told me that she makes phone calls five days a week. She is confident that she is doing her part in making her voice heard.
Coming Next: How Can We be Even More Effective in Our Resistance?