In How to Wage a Resistance–Part 1 we looked at impacting our Members of Congress through calling and emailing them. Remember that reelection is a major motivator for our representatives, so it makes a difference when enough people clearly state their opinions on specific issues. On an individual level phone calls and emails can have an impact, but the most impact can come through coordinated group action.
Our three representatives (two Senators/one Representative) are our voices in Washington, whether we like this fact or not. We need to take every action we can to ensure that they are actually speaking for us. If they are not hearing our voices, they are hearing someone else’s.
The Indivisible Guide, written by former congressional staffers, offers specific ideas about how constituents can actually make a difference. The following strategies, excerpted from the Guide, are painless ways that we can build bridges to other like-minded individuals or groups to maximize our impact:
- Town halls. Members of Congress (MoC) regularly hold public in-district events to show that they are listening to constituents. Make them listen to you, and report out when they don’t.
- Other local public events. MoCs love appearing at public events back home. Don’t let them get positive photo-ops without questions about racism, authoritarianism, and corruption, etc.
- District office visits. Every MoC has one or several district offices. Call for an appointment or go there. Request a meeting with the MoC. If the MoC is not there, get an appointment with a senior representative in his/her office and articulate your concerns and the actions you want your MoC to take.
- Coordinated calls. While calls are a light lift, they can have an impact. Organize your local group to barrage your MoCs with calls at an opportune moment about a specific issue.
Another effective individual/group action is writing letters to the editor of newspapers in our districts. Our letters should be reasoned and specific, not rants. We want to be heard, and ranting, while “heard” is seldom considered seriously by anyone.
Indivisible suggests that we always record encounters on video, prepare questions ahead of time, coordinate with our groups, and report back to local media. Even national media may be interested in our local actions.
When you or your group go to a Town Hall Meeting or MoC’s District Office, remember that it’s the voice of reason that is most heard, not the loudest or most abrasive voice. Our MoCs are humans, and like all of us, being screamed at and vilified is not likely to result in thoughtful consideration of our concerns.
For more ideas on coordinating group actions to impact the thinking (and voting) of your MoC, please read the Indivisible Guide.
How do you find a group to work with? You can find hundreds of groups to join around the country based on your zip code here. If no local group is close enough for you to join, you can start a group and register it at this site.
Working with a group, whether it is five or 300, can be incredibly energizing. It is easy to lose momentum when we are resisting alone, but working as a part of a group can help us to keep our resolve focused on the goal of resisting the Republican agenda. Will we be successful every time? Of course not, but we will have an impact. Keeping our MoCs aware of our priorities and letting them know that we vote can be powerful.
Finally, if your MoC is supporting your values in Congress, be sure to thank him/her. It surely isn’t easy to maintain motivation and motivation for them, either, and hearing a sincere “thank you” from constituents is important.