The former Congressional staffers who wrote the excellent Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda state unequivocally that, while not dismissing telephone calls, nothing works better than in-person meetings with our representatives in Washington, D.C. and at their state offices and events.
Certainly that is good advice but for us elders, it is often not possible for a variety of reasons. In that case our second best option is phone calls to our reps directed at one specific issue at a time.
An amazing, brand new case in point:
On the first day of the new, 115th Congress on Tuesday, the Republicans, who with their majority, are in charge of the House rules, had voted in secret on Monday evening to change the rules of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
”A rules change,” reported The New York Times, “would have prevented the office...from investigating potentially criminal allegations, allowed lawmakers on the House Ethics Committee to shut down any O.C.E. investigation and, for good measure, gagged the office’s staff members in their dealings with the news media.”
As soon as the news of this got out early Tuesday morning, even before the House members were sworn in, voters throughout the country deluged House members with angry phone calls.
Now here is the important part for you and me and others committed to resistance and protection:
Before noon, House Republican leaders reconvened in the basement of the Capitol and rescinded their changes to the OCE and that happened because of the uproar from ordinary citizens.
It was a humiliating defeat for the Republicans on the first day of the new Congress that was the lead headline Tuesday and Wednesday on every TV news program, internet news website and old-fashioned print newspaper.
Let us not forget that. We elders who don't get out and about much have an important role to play with phone calls and we got our first lesson this week in just how effective it can be. Here's why.
House members and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2018. From day one in each session, they spend about half their days fundraising for the next campaign and nothing scares them more than angry constituents. (See page 8 of the Indivisible guide for more on this.)
BE PREPARED FOR TO RESIST AND PROTECT
As on Tuesday, votes and other issues can come up quickly in Congress – in fact, the Republicans have planned it that way, to keep public and political opponents hopping and, maybe, confused with one thing following swiftly on the heels of another so they can sneak through bills – like that rule change on Tuesday.
So we need to be prepared to take action on a moment's notice. Here's how to do that: Create a file on your computer with all the information you need to contact your three representatives: two senators, one House member.
Make a section for each one that includes:
• Member's Name
• Congressional office phone number
• District office phone number
• Address of nearest district office
• Email address, if available. If not, a link to the Congressional webpage where you can send email
• List of committees he/she serves on and what position they hold on it. These can be relevant depending on legislation at hand.
• Lots of this information and much more about bills and votes can be found at GovTrack
• Copy out sample call dialogue scripts to edit as needed for current issues (See page 25 of Indivisible Guide and more scripts at this link under the header “Calling Script”.)
You can find links to your representatives home pages at these two links; it's a good idea to sign up for the newsletters that many members of Congress send out regularly:
Senate Contact Information
House Contact Information
If you don't know who your House representative is, click here to find out via Zip Code.
SOME ADDITIONAL TIPS
Keep this number handy too: 202.224.3121. It is the Capitol switchboard where you can be directed to any of your representatives. Even if you don't know the rep's name, just give the operator your Zip Code and he/she will connect you.
Keep the White House Switchboard number too: 202.456.1414
Subscribe to the Indivisible Guide newsletter. The authors send out regular updates with tips and information on how best to influence your representatives.
Add all your phone numbers to your cell phone so you can easily call from anywhere.
In the computer file you have made for each of your representatives, keep a diary of what you are doing: telephone calls, in-person visits, what you told them and the response you received.
If you think this is a lot of work, listen to what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) said, as was recently reported in Daily Kos:
”Democrats plotting a return from the political wilderness are facing their first big dilemma: how fiercely to fight President-elect Donald Trump.
“Let me answer that for you: Fiercely. In the way that, back in 2010, Elizabeth Warren said she wanted the fight for a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to go: 'plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.'”
And President Obama said on Wednesday in his meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill planning their resistance to Republican's promise to repeal Obamacare:
“Treat it like a campaign” and “Look out for the American people.”
A PERSONAL DILEMMA
I believe that America's democratic ideals, Constitution and way of life are at greater risk than at any time since the Civil War. And it is not just from the president-elect. The Republicans are equally dangerous to our country's well being.
For that reason, I will not let up on reporting and urging readers to do whatever is possible to resist and protect the United States. (Thank you, Simone, and all the commenters who agreed to her excellent suggestion for “resist and protect on Monday's post.)
However, I cannot and do not want to neglect the original mandate of TimeGoesBy to explore “what it's really like to get old” and while it is important not to respond to every twitch from Congress or tweet from Trump, sometimes political events will take precedence over ageing.
That notwithstanding, I am wondering about the mix. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have.