Everyone seems to talk about calling your Congressman – but since few give directions, here’s how. But first, before you start you really need to be at least somewhat conversant with the subject. So spend a few minutes reading up on the subject, and taking notes of your talking points. Once you have a list of facts to talk about, and perhaps a few comments about those facts, it is time to commence communicating with Congress.
E-mail is easiest. It is also the second least effective; just ahead of preprinted “sign here and mail garbage.” Generally, an E-mail will be read by his or her AweInspiring Mightiness’ 17th assistant intern to his/her fourth assistant intern; get a perfunctory count (as in constituent in ZIP 12345 yes on (issue)) and your original E-mail will result in your receiving one of a mass E-mailing. Most likely one of those molasses dripping messages telling you how important your opinion is but how heshe cannot see its way clear to vote your way. But be sure to vote for His/Her Mightiness in the next election.
A letter is somewhat more difficult, and more expensive as well. Inexpensive $4.00 a ream copy paper will do, although quality business stationary or personalized stationary and a matching envelope will magically get opened and read first. But on a scale of one to 100 where an E-mail is a one, a personally written letter will rate at least a fifty. Or sixty if your presentation is attractive enough or your name is Gotrocks.
The top of the “communicate with your congresscritter” heap is the telephone call. Calls are usually cheaper than postage, and take less time and effort. Skype and others will give you unlimited long distance for a couple of bucks a month; and phone companies will charge from two cents to ten cents a minute. A stamp will cost as much as twenty minutes of telephone time; or more. And talking comes naturally, whether writing does or not.
What to you say to His Mightiness when you get to talk to him? Don’t worry about it. You won’t talk to the Mighty One. Even the head of GE does not talk to His Mightiness. You will talk to an administrative assistant who has the Holy One’s ear. who pulls his or her pants on the same way you do. One leg at a time.
So you make your call, tell whoever answers you would like to talk about whatever you want to talk about. You will probably be asked for your zip code and possibly your name, and you should be routed to the proper assistant administrator who will act as His Mightiness Representative On Earth for your call. After that, be as polite as you would be to your preacher, forget you have a temper, and state your case; factually and fully. Avoid all statements of “feelings” and go strictly with fact. Answer any and all questions as fully and completely as you can. And while proper English is a plus, “language so polished you could skate on it” is generally a negative.
If you can manage it, your first sentence should contain a statement His Mightiness Representative can agree with. Most people hear statements they agree with and subsequent statements much more clearly than those they disagree with from the start; so one or two very brief statements you feel the person you are talking to will agree with will grease the way for your talking points. But two “warm up sentences” are enough. “Skating around the subject” gets nothing but cold coffee and colder shoulder.
If you cannot answer a question correctly tell His Mightiness’ Representative On Earth you will be glad to research it, and where can you leave him a message. But it is best to have the answers to questions you think you will be asked on paper in front of you when you call. When His Mightiness’ Representative seems to want to end the call, end it. You gain nothing and can lose much by keeping your jaws running.
And that’s about the size of it. House.gov will have the telephone number for your Congressperson; and senate.gov has the number for both your Senators.
If you are pleasant but persistent, as we all should be, you will probably get to be on a first name basis with your trio of Mightiness’ designated representatives. When that person calls you by your first name and asks about your wife, you will know you are making progress.