Tips for Calling Congress For People who hate to Call Anybody, Let Alone Congress, or If You’re New to This Calling Thing…
(from Lauren O’Neal)
If you know me, you know I hate talking on the phone more than anything, so if I can do it, you can do it too. It’s actually pretty easy as far as phone calls go, for those of you who also have phone anxiety. You just call, a staffer answers, you read your script, the staffer says they’ll pass the info along, the end. If you’re super nervous, read the script out loud first to practice. Also you can squeeze your eyes shut or curl up in the fetal position or whatever—they can’t see you!
It usually only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to do a round of these phone calls. Of course, phone calls from constituents are not the most powerful political tool in the world, but they do have an effect when there are a lot of them —and they listen when there are a lot of them.
Plus taking 10 minutes out of your day to do it is not that much effort when you consider we’re facing 23 million being uninsured , innumerable medical bankruptcies and an estimated 25,000-44,000 deaths a year.
- Aside from in-person meetings at town halls and so forth, phone calls are the most effective form of communicating with your members of Congress, because phone calls can’t be ignored. Letters, emails, and social-media posts don’t count for much. Feel free to write/email/post on social media, but only if you make a phone call as well. (Exception are letters detailing healthcare issues that ACA helped with)
- You have two senators and one representative. To find out who they are and how to contact them, use Google, text your zip code to 520-200-2223, or check the EXTREMELY comprehensive ContactingCongress.org.
- Each member of Congress has a DC office as well as one or more local offices in-state. If you have time, call both! If you can only call one, call the office most local to you first. If no one is answering, then call the DC office.
- Since I’m making a lot of phone calls to these folks, I’ve saved their numbers in my phone—two numbers each, both the local office and the DC office.
- When you call, they will probably ask you for zip code and possibly your address, to make sure you’re a constituent, so be ready to give those.
- Ask for specific things like “vote for the XYZ Bill,” rather than just saying “oppose Trump.”
- Keep it short. You don’t need to tell the staffer you speak to why you support or oppose something, just that you support or oppose it. They’re just creating a tally of how many people took which position; they won’t pass your convictions or supporting arguments along to your member of Congress.
- Be very courteous and polite, obviously.
- For further reading, check out “This is what it’s like answering all those phone calls to Congress” by the communications director for a sitting Congresswoman.