When it comes to politics, what is the best way to get your voice heard? One of the easiest ways is to contact your Congressional representative. It's not quite as straight-forward as it might seem. The slideshow below offers some tips from a person who is acquainted with what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the voice of the people.
The fact is, as with everything in a representative democracy, no matter how loud and persistent, and no matter how fair and righteous your opinion might be, a single voice is likely to be lost in the steady hum of Washington. You are competing with sophisticated lobbyists and special interests of all kinds.
So what can you do?
Take heart. The reality is that, for every opinion, you can find people online who share your ideas. The more of them you can find, and the more of them you can convince to participate in your call for action, the greater your chances that somebody will listen to you.
For that kind of mobilization, twitter and social media can hardly be excelled. It might be a very good way to find people who think like you do.
However, tweeting, posting on Facebook or even emails will, according to former Congressional staff member Emily Ellsworth, have a limited impact on your representative in Congress at best.
Her suggestion is to get on your phone and start calling. Encourage your "tribe" to start calling too. When a large number of people call at the same time, Ellsworth says, people really do take notice.
Obviously, it would be wise to prepare your talking points in advance and stress the ideas that you want the person to remember when you say "goodbye."
The trick is to be it firm yet pleasant. Also keep in mind that the first time, you make a call, you are probably not going to sound very polished. That's normal.
In any case, you won't be speaking to your representative directly anyway but a staffer with a pretty thankless task.
So, the next question, how do I learn who to call and how do I find their numbers?
Not a big problem. Here's a website that may get you that information. Just type in your zip code and the names and numbers should appear.
Have you ever called a representative? What was your experience? Do you have any tips to add to this?