How to Write Your Congressman

by A Manly Guest Contributor on June 17, 2011 · 32 comments

in Civic Skills, Manly Skills

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Harry R. Burger. Mr. Burger wrote his first letter to his congressman over ten years ago, and once had his state assemblyman recognize him by name from the back of a crowd.

Politics is a time honored manly pursuit. If a man doesn’t stand up for his own interests, how can he rightly expect anyone else to? While actually running for office may be a goal for some, it behooves all citizens to at least be aware of the politics and current events of their community, nation, and world. When you come across an issue you feel strongly about, instead of yelling at the television, you can actually do something about it–write your Congressman.

“Why should my Congressman care what I think?” you may ask. Well, you are one of their constituents–that makes it their job to represent you in government. They work for you, and if they don’t do their job and satisfy the people they represent, they can get voted out of office in the next election.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to communicate with their elected representatives:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis added)

This is a right Americans are fortunate to have–and don’t exercise nearly enough. Many men feel cynical and apathetic, that politicians are so corrupt that it’s not worth their time to petition them. But that just turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy! Things will never change if good men don’t get involved and hold their politicians accountable. Writing your representatives may seem like only a small thing, but politicians need to know that their constituents are paying attention.

Writing to your Congressman, or any other elected official, isn’t as hard or time-consuming as you might imagine. Follow the guidelines outlined below, exercise your citizenship, and make your voice heard.

Before You Write Your Representative

1. Hone in on exactly why you are writing.

Do you have a strong opinion on an issue you heard about in the news? Do you feel you have been treated unfairly by an agency of the government? Do you have a problem you believe deserves to be addressed by a new law? Does a particular law seem unfair to you, or to have undesirable implications? Are you applying to a service academy (i.e. West Point)? Are you working on the Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge for the Boy Scouts? Are you making a courtesy invitation? Do you really like something your representative did?

It is important to sum up your purpose in one sentence, and not the kind with six commas. This is the first step, and it is important to give you focus and inform the rest of the process. Under most circumstances, this will be the first line of your letter.

2. Figure out whom you should be addressing.

You need to make sure you are sending your message to the right person. This can sometimes take a little bit of homework, depending on your issue. Sometimes your senator or representative is not the best person to handle your issue. For example, if you are concerned with land zoning, this is probably best addressed to your town or county level officials, and issues of state law go to your state legislator. Usually, it is best to deal with someone as low as possible in the chain that can help you, so you don’t need to wait as your message is passed down through the chain. The fewer constituents an official has, the more personal attention they can afford to give your message.

Every jurisdiction is structured differently, so it is impossible to summarize how to figure this out here. The internet has made this much easier, as almost every government branch and agency has a website these days. For federal representatives, www.govtrack.us has an interactive map setup to help you figure out what district you are in. Often, your local chapter of the League of Women Voters will maintain and publish a list of government officials, or a local library should be able to help.

“Do not ask for something they cannot deliver. A Town Supervisor, for example, cannot lower school taxes or increase Social Security Benefits.” -Frank Petrone, Supervisor, Town of Huntington, NY

You almost always want to address someone who represents you directly. If you get to vote for them they will care more about what you think, and if you accidentally address the wrong legislator they might be obligated to ignore your request out of courtesy for your actual representative. One exception to this might be if the issue affects a location that’s close to your home but technically in a different district–then your best bet is to address your concern to both representatives, and tell them both that you are doing so.

3. Pick the appropriate medium for your message.

Almost all public officials have a website these days–just Google their name and then look for the “Contact” link on their page. They may have specific instructions on how they prefer to be contacted. For example, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and anthrax mailings, members of Congress asked for emails instead of letters because of the extra security screenings and delays associated with physical mail. In general, you should choose the medium according to the issue you want addressed and how strongly you feel about it.

• Hard copy: This is the most dignified and time honored method. There is something about committing a message to paper that makes it all the more official and concrete. Generally this is your best route if you have the time to do it right, and you want to be taken seriously.

Only handwrite the final copy if you have nice, legible penmanship. Handwriting adds a more personal touch, but if the person on the other end can’t read what you want, then what’s the point of writing at all? If yours isn’t very good, perhaps it is time to start a journal for practice.

• Email: Best for when time is not particularly urgent and you don’t care all that strongly about an issue, but you still want your voice heard. Please do still follow the other guidelines here–it is far too easy to fire off an email in the heat of anger and without proofreading, which could hurt your case if the reader associates your point of view with characteristics like “uninformed” or “uneducated” or “irrational.”

You may come across a cause asking you to write in using a pre-written form letter where you only have to fill in your address and signature. While this is better than doing nothing to support the cause, it makes you just one more number; their staff will say “we got 25 letters or emails supporting XYZ.” It’s a little better if you can add a personal notation in the space usually provided, but if you really want to make an impact, it is always best to write your own message from top to bottom. You can copy out ideas or statistics or such from the form letter, but try to paraphrase and make it more personal.

• Phone call: If you hear on the news that something is being voted on today or tomorrow and you can get a live person from their office on the horn, this is the way to make sure your message gets through before it is too late. Keep it short and factual and be very clear on what your position is. If it’s not that urgent, it’s better to use another avenue.

• Meeting in person: This one has a lot of variability. There may be a public hearing for a specific issue, they might hold an event specifically to meet constituents and/or fundraise, or they may attend a meeting of civic groups like a Chamber of Commerce. My state assemblyman is known for showing up personally at Eagle Scout Courts of Honor, for example.

Usually you will not have very much time to address them, as there are many others like you waiting to do the same. Know what you want to say before you stand up to the microphone or shake their hand.

One strategy is to send a letter beforehand and at the meeting introduce yourself and refer to the main points of your letter. This lets them put a face to a name and shows that you care enough to participate in politics on multiple fronts.

Writing the Letter

1. Open the letter with an appropriate salutation. For a Representative or Senator, “To the Honorable John Doe,” is a good way to go. Using a title here is also acceptable, “Dear Supervisor Petrone,” for example. Also, make sure your full name and address is on the letter itself–envelopes can get lost, and you need to be sure they can verify if you are a constituent or not and send you a response. This is still important if you are sending an email. All the normal standards of good letter writing apply. Good stationery can’t hurt either.

“Keep it short.” -NY State Assemblyman Jim Conte

2. Get straight to the point. The first line of the letter should summarize why you are writing and what it is that you want (you should already be clear on this if you followed the above guidelines). Options include, “Thank you for…” “I support the passage of…” “Bill XYZ should not be allowed to pass,” etc. If it’s about a specific bill, include its official name and number if possible (ex. “USA PATRIOT Act HR 3162”). Don’t ramble on too long–people tend to get bored and stop reading after a page or two unless you write something interesting enough to justify it. And if you ramble, it makes you seem like a crazy man.

3. Back up your concerns. Hard facts and statistics cited from a specific, published source (be sure to say where you get the information from) can support your position much better than nebulous statements and pure opinion. Personal stories are often appropriate. If you can tell a story of how this issue affects you or your family specifically, that helps to “bring it home.” Politicians love to be able to call out their constituents by name and put a face on the cause. This also helps to develop a more personal connection between you and your representative.

4. Always remember to be respectful. This is someone of power and influence you are addressing, and generally you are looking for them to do you a favor. Impugning your recipient’s character or honesty is counterproductive. Above all, do NOT include anything that could be construed as a threat, unless you enjoy the prospect of the FBI investigating you.

Receiving a Response

Members of Congress are entitled to franking privileges, which means that their signature in place of a stamp lets them send mail to their constituents for free. Other officials may not be so lucky, but it is still in their best interest to let you know what they are doing to help you out–after all, they want your vote, and you’ve already shown them you care more about politics than most.

You may or may not receive a response, depending on the person you address, the issue you discuss, how many people wrote in about that issue, how busy the office is with other mail, how busy the official is at the moment, and other factors too varied to count. The bottom line is that if you don’t get an answer, it may not be any fault of yours. It might even just be delayed–Vice President Dick Cheney’s office once took almost three years to decline a courtesy invitation to my Eagle Scout ceremony (they blamed it on post-9/11 mail security). If getting a response is important to you, ask for one specifically.

More likely than not, any response you do get will be some sort of a form letter. Keep in mind when you are reading their response that this person most likely got to their office at least in part because they are gifted wordsmiths and diplomats, which is to say, you’ll need to read between the lines. If they can honestly say, “I agree with you and I voted accordingly,” of course they will do so. Flowery talk about taking your views into consideration or such without an explicit “I voted this way,” means they voted the other way, and they know you won’t like it, but they are trying to make it sound like they are still on your side.

If they do something special to help you out, a thank you note to let them know that your issue has been resolved is a respectful courtesy.

Like any activity, writing effective letters is a skill that improves with practice, and the first time is the hardest. Do yourself a favor and get over that hump today. Find an issue that matters to you–even if your passion for it isn’t very strong–and let your elected official know how you feel.  It’s good practice for when you do have an important cause to champion.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael June 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

As a current Congressional intern, let me also make a few recommendations:

1) If you intend on writing your Congressman, out of Congressional courtesy, write YOUR Congressman – writing a Congressman who represents a different district would only get your letter/email/fax thrown away immediately. Congressional offices really only take care of their own constituents, and rarely have time for anyone else.

2) Don’t write like a crazy person. Mail with lots of BIG BOLD LETTERS and wild, inflammatory accusations (whether against the Congressman, his allies, or his opponents) isn’t looked upon very favorably, and is sometimes thrown rather than accepted and filed away.

3) If you can, avoid sending a form letter through an organization. Instead, write/type it yourself. My office has a policy of ignoring form letters from constituents sent through PACS. People who write their own letters have priority.

2 Superstantial June 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thank you for this blog post.

Although the notion that, “if they don’t do their job and satisfy the people they represent, they can get voted out of office” is quaint, perhaps if enough people take an interest in laws passed in their name, this might actually be the case some day.

I once worked for an elected official and a wholeheartedly agree with intern Michael’s notes above – if you write like a reasonable person, your concerns will be treated with the respect they deserve.

Please do get involved – it’s our country and we have an obligation to pay attention to it.

3 Superstantial June 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

Hah!

Also be sure to proofread! Sorry for my misplaced “a” above.

4 Martin Redford June 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

Democracy is one of those forms of government that is constantly reinventing itself. It allows the active participation of the general public, that many other government’s permit. One thing though, Democracy is not as successful in third world countries as it is in first world countries (i.e. Wars, Guns, and Votes by Paul Collier). Visit my blog!

http://www.ThePerfectMaleBlog.com
“The Science Behind a Real Man”

5 Gary June 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

Not to quibble with details, but franking doesn’t mean a Member of Congress can send mail for free. It just means that they don’t have to go through the hassle of buying and affixing thousands of stamps. They still have to pay postage on what they mail, and do so on a monthly basis out of their office budget.

I work for a Member of Congress, and in the near decade I’ve been on Capitol Hill without exaggerating I will say I’ve reviewed hundreds of thousands of incoming and outgoing letters. From my perspective, and that of our office, email actually carries equal weight with us if not slightly more. Because of technological advances, they are actually easier to process and respond to, and so we appreciate the time savings. The exception of course, is the pre-written form letter your referenced. We call it astroturf. Those messages move to the end of the queue pretty quickly.

6 TWH June 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

As a staffer who has seen correspondence on a daily basis for the past 3 years, here are a few extra tips:
1. Most importantly, be sure to spell your representative’s name correctly. Nothing irritates me more than an individual who chooses not to check the spelling of their member’s name.
2. Learn that spell check is your friend. Nothing makes an individual come off more stupid than spelling your states name incorrectly.
3. A cordial introduction to a letter makes it go down a little smoother, even if you are writing to gripe a bit. A brash delivery in a letter makes the writer seem a little crazy. Would you ever meet a member of Congress, and start out with “Alright a**hole, this is what I need”
4. Personalize, personalize, personalize! Anyone can take a form letter sent by X organization, but it shows that you truly care about an issue if you take time to write about the topic (and with conviction I might add). Show that you are knowledgeable on the topic.
5. Understand that the office receives thousands of letters a day. I personally work for a Congressperson from a very large state, with a very large constituency. We have a larger staff, but a busy month will reap 100,000 letters in a month. That’s a lot of letters, with only a fifth of the staff dedicated to responses, you can understand that it takes time.
6. Sending your congressperson a thank you letter, or a letter of approval, is absolutely fine. In fact, we find great satisfaction in hearing from the constituency that they like what their representative is doing.

I know others have written some of these tips in their comments, but I think these tips will be helpful.

7 jim little June 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

How timely. I just wrote 2 Senators congratulating them on their votes today. Last Monday I wrote 2 state legislators and 1 state senator challenging the votes they took.
So far I have received replies from both state legislators, including the cell number and an invitation to call him regarding the issue. I did, got voicemail and a responding call withing a half hour. I spent another half hour with him on the phone. I still don’t totally agree with the stand, but I do see that it was a well reasoned one.
Government can be responsive at times.

8 Mikw June 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

“Good stationery can’t hurt either.”

Unless you use AoM stationery with an image of a gun on it – probably not the best choice to write to your elected official.

9 Tim June 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

@Mikw

That might depend on the State and the Congressman.

10 Stephen June 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I think it depends on the representative in question. I think that most issues worth writing to a representative about are worth the price of a stamp so my general approach is a sheet of paper with words on it but I’ve had good results from email as well. I ended up on one of my local representatives’ Christmas card list after sending them some emails and it really humanises the whole process.

The same process goes for most western democracies, just with different addresses. A useful resource for people in the UK is http://www.writetothem.com/

11 Jack Scott June 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

In Australia, http://aph.gov.au/whoswho/index.htm will help you find your member and write to them.

Note that for most matters, you have a choice in who you can write to. You can write to your local member (who represents you) or to the government minister who represents the subject of your letter.

Unfortunately, if you write to your local member about subject X, and that falls directly under a minister’s portfolio, and the minister and your local member are in the same political party, you’ll end up getting a reply from the minister, as your local member will simply forward the letter on.

If you do write to a government minister, it’s a good idea to also direct a similar letter at the opposition’s shadow minister. In Australia, the opposition will almost always oppose the government, no matter how illogical that is for that topic. So somebody will agree with you; you just have to find them.

12 Dan Smith June 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I’ve had some experience with this, and I will continue to have experience with it. I’ve written my former congressman several times about previous health care bills because my daughter has a disease that isn’t fully covered by many insurance companies. My congressman was a Republican, so as you can imagine, I got the party line for a response. I know the right thing to do is keep writing, but you must understand that it gets frustrating when we already know the answer to many issues. There is no open mind for the most part. Still, we keep writing, right?

13 Aubrey June 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Also would like to ad to only contact the person who represents you. The office that you are trying to contact don’t care nor will they pass the information along if you are not one of their constituents.

14 Mike June 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Alternate method:

1. Purchase garden spade.

2. Find appropriate location for backyard hole.

3. Dig hole.

4. Fill hole back up.

5. Light self on fire.

15 Colin June 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

Thank you for posting this article. Being a good citizen and taking time to exercise the rights and privileges we have as Americans certainly is manly.

16 Winston June 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

I agree with Mike’s method in message #14. Made me laugh.

My well worded, personalized, courteous, respectful (that feeling is _long gone_ now), to-the-point letters achieved nothing more than to occupy various staff members who help keep the facade alive that my wishes outweigh the wishes of some moneyed special interest who donates thousands of dollars to politician X’s campaign.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed139.html

17 Mike Duty June 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

I live in West Virginia and in the past I have written to both of my senators (one, the late Robert C. Byrd is now deceased). I have also written to my representative in the House as well as my state delegate. I have always used email. Sometimes my employer will send out company notices about a bill that’s up for a vote in Washington and they ask us to contact our Reps to support or oppose legislation. I usually go along with this. I also heard Senator Rockefeller make a statement in a radio interview (regarding what is now called Obamacare). On this issue, I also contacted the late Sen Byrd. Both of my Senators responded with a form letter that let me know they disagreed with my view. When I contacted my state delegate on a matter being voted on in the legislature, He again notified me he disagreed with me. Oh well.

One advantage to email is if you have evidence to support your stance on an issue, it’s easier to email links as opposed to try to send some kind of package. But be careful not to smother your recipient with TMI.

18 Matt June 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I’m a congressional staffer, and I do have another bit of advice. Be sure to include your full address and phone number. If you just fax or mail your name, with no way to verify that you are a constituent, the letter may be ignored.

19 Name Withheld to Protect Weiner June 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Listen. My wife is an LD and half our friends are chief of staff or better. Better is defined as people who sucked up long enough to get an appointment or a lobying gig. As Mike cited in #14, you’ll get more satisfaction by burning yourself.

The congressperson/senator will NEVER see the letter you send. Ever. An intern or staff ass *maybe* an LC will read it. They will sort it into the appropriate category in capcor, and then generate your auto response. Period.

If you need something – call. Start with the state office first, then jump to DC. If you jump to DC, you will most likely be handed back down to the state office. If you REALLY need something, then set a meeting with the state office and get it out in person.

If you like writing letters, feeling like you’re making a difference but achieving nothing, or are a big fan of sisyphus, then write away. If you don’t like the feeling of spitting into the wind from a moving vehicle, then find other things to do with your time.

20 Matt June 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

Please, keep your letters brief and to the point. I know a Congressional Intern, and the more to the point it is, the more likely it’ll be read. Also, if you call, don’t ramble on for 15 minutes to a Democratic Senator about something far-right-winged. It’s clearly not going to make much of a difference and you’ll just annoy an intern. Keep it short (five minutes max), to the point, and don’t be rude. Be nice to the intern; they don’t vote on this stuff.

21 Joe June 19, 2011 at 6:30 am

To: Post #19

Even the skeptical insider would agree that if enough people write about an issue, regardless of lobbying power, it will have an impact.

I’ve never been around Capitol Hill, but I’d imagine that if a particular vote made a Congressman’s mail double (or better) in volume he or she would take notice. After all, isn’t this how the first bill for the post-2008 big bank bailouts got rejected?

22 John June 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

As a current Senate intern, corresponding a U.S. Senator via letter is a relatively ineffective method of getting your point across for the following reasons:

1) The Senator does not read any mail. Legislative Correspondents read and respond to mail.
2) Email is more effective for a timely response. Mail is thoroughly checked before we even receive it. We may not see the letter until two weeks later. There is also no preference of reading letters over emails.
2) The Senator will never set up a meeting with you unless you are a part of an important organization, just want a picture, or just want to shake hands.
3) Although you will never talk to the Senator via phone call, your comments are tallied on issues for him to see. So essentially your issue is best represented here compared to letter which he does not see. If his phones are blowing up on an issue, he will notice.

Some tips on phone calls:
1) Never call in at the request of a radio host or other medium. Do your research prior to calling in. Senators do not have “districts”.
2) Be brief. Offices receive hundreds of calls a day. A 30 second phone call is more than sufficient. I usually write down the same line for a 30 second call or a 15 minute call on the same topic.
3) Make sure you contact the appropriate office. If it is a local or state issue, do not contact your U.S. Senator.
4) Never be rude. You are less likely to be written down.

I could go on forever. I am not a fan that Senators are so inaccessible, but unfortunately it is modern day politics.

23 Eric June 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

Whilst skipping my long diatribe about why state and municipal politics are becoming a wiser investment of a voter’s time than federal issues, let me make a suggestion: Don’t waste time writing your federal congressman. But if your issue has a component at the state level, it is *always* worth your time to contact (via email, letter, or phone call) your state congressman. State legislators usually have districts small enough so that it is actually in their best interest to take notice of individual points of contact.

I usually look at the bills that are being released at the beginning of the legislative session, pick four or five that have the most direct impact or personal interest for me, RESEARCH them very well (you will more often than not embarass yourself if you contact your Rep without having actually read some/all of the wording of the bill) and contact my state Rep encouraging her to support or oppose those bills. I always get a reply back within a day or two. A few times I have even received a personal phone call from my Rep. Once, a few years ago, she even stopped by my office to discuss an issue I had emailed her about. We don’t always agree on these issues, but this level of responsiveness has garnered a huge amount of respect and support from me, and that is a rare thing for me to say about a politician.

Since becoming more politically active the last 3 or 4 years, one thing I’ve learned is that, at a bare minimum, if you want to do any good you should make sure a few of your local/municipal office holders and your state Rep know your name. You will help yourself even if you do nothing else but go to a city council / town hall meeting, walk up to them afterwards and say, “I wanted to introduce myself to you because I am a voter who is paying attention and talking about these issues with other voters.”
Then write a short follow up letter basically saying the same thing and thanking them for their time. They will most likely remember you after that.

24 Michael T June 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

A followup question:
> Michael June 17, 2011 at 11:44 am
> As a current Congressional intern, let me also make a few recommendations:
>
> 1) If you intend on writing your Congressman, out of Congressional courtesy,
> write YOUR Congressman – writing a Congressman who represents a different
> district would only get your letter/email/fax thrown away immediately.

I have been wondering about this. What about writing to a member of congress who is *not* “mine” but is on a commitee that I care about?

25 John June 22, 2011 at 7:28 am

Michael, I don’t know about Michael June, but we usually send ALL out of state mail to the respective senators. However, we do have some exceptions. If it is directly written to the senator. Such as: “Hey, [insert senator's name], I am so happy that you won the election.” It doesn’t hurt to add more detail to personalize specifically for that senator. I also tend to keep out of state mail if it is hand written. Most out of state mail is typed and clearly mass produced for several senators. The more the letter is geared toward our senator, the more I feel bad passing it along to another senator.

26 bob June 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm

WOW…all these people who work for some elected official. You arrogant sob’s. How dare you call constituents stupid. How dare you not show interest in what people have to say just because you don’t like their stationary. Do your G.D. job and treat those people who take the time to write some freaking courtesy. I fought in Ramadi Iraq, 2005-2006. I am not the most intelligent person but i damn sure have more character and integrity than ANY of you scumbags. How about if I just send you a picture of my Bronze Star with V device and then you can post comments about how “dumb” your constituents really are. You are not even worth spell check. No wonder people are uprising against these elected pricks and their staff.

27 Mike June 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

Excellent article. A few years back, I wrote to my congressman concerning a personal issue. I had a response within a few days, and my issue was solved within a week. Needless to say, he got my vote the following election.

Americans (myself included) do not get involved enough in government. Most of us are content throwing food at the TV and arguing with our friends, rather than actually getting involved and making ourselves truly heard. Politicians need to know the opinions of their constiuents. Yes, lobbyists get them the money, and their opinions will likely have a bit of weight, but it is still your every day constituent that votes them in or out of office.

28 Ethan June 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I write my congresspeople all the time. Can’t shake the feeling that it’s little more than a civic placebo, since I’m not a millionaire, a lobbyist or the CEO of a major corporation, but I figure I’m at least doing something.

29 Steve April 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I wrote my congressman once, and again, and again, and again about a problem with the 1973 Education Act. His aide laughed at me, speaking in a monosyllabic speech “we are your f e d e r a l reps to to your s t a t e rep” I finally got to a town hall meeting and I asked him if he could help. He got a big smile on his face, grabbed my shoulders. I was relieved thinking someone finally heard me.. He was just getting a grip, and he pushed me out of the way probably learned from some training semainar. I left the bulding with two people walking behind me most likely providing an escort. I dont see the point anymore. If they don’t have a cut-and-paste answer they wont write back.

30 Mike September 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

After Obama’s recent announcement of his desire to attack the Sryian government, I decided that I would contact my congressman and let him know my opposition to this decision and ask him to be a voice of caution. After reading many of the comments posted here by people who actually work for congressmen/women, and some who have reached out to representatives, a letter seems pretty ineffective. What is a truly effective way of being heard? Realistic expectations and skepticism are necessary, but pessimism is dangerous and useless.

31 Courtney January 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

I work for a State Representative and am very dejected about our lack of “system” for responding to constituents. We get a ton of written mail and e-mails but have no dedicated staff member to take care of these. We have 5 total full time staff members. In order to even craft a well written form letter I have to shirk responsibility like writing legislation or doing press releases- which the member values more than responding to constituents. It’s so disheartening. It actually keeps me awake at night.

32 Marvin January 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

Courtney,

I am currently in the military and see injustice happen all the time from the highest to the lowest ranks of leadership. If there are openings for staff members dedicated to addressing correspondence to the state representatives

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