Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Communicating with the Capitol: The Power of Constituency

We all want superpowers, right?  Personally, I would like to be able to teleport.  Or fly.  Basically, find some cool way of avoiding my walk home every night in the freezing cold.

What if I told you that you do have a superpower?  I’ll admit, it may not be quite as flashy as flying or teleporting or being invisible, but seriously, you do.  It’s the power of constituency.  Sounds cool, right?

Basically, Members of Congress live and breathe by their constituents.  As a constituent, you elected your two Senators and your Representative because you thought they would do a good job representing your interests.  If they don’t end up meeting your expectations, you, as a constituent, can help vote them out.  That’s pretty powerful.

And as a result, Members of Congress really do care about what you, as a constituent, think!  They want to know your opinion on issues, how issues directly affect you, and what policies you’d like them to focus on.  That way, they can work to best serve your interests and thereby win over your vote again when it comes time for reelection.

On the other hand, many offices either have policies that they will only meet with constituents or that there must be some sort of tie to the district or state if a non-constituent is requesting a meeting.  This makes sense given the onslaught of meeting offices receive in a given week.  They have to prioritize their constituents.

So whenever you are communicating with the Congress, whether you’re trying to set up a face-to-face meeting or just corresponding with the legislative staff about an issue you care about, make sure you include your address, or at least your zip code.  If they can see right away that you are in their district or state, they are so much more likely to act on your issue.  Seriously, I hear this time and again from schedulers as we set up meeting after meeting on Capitol Hill.

So next time you have an opinion on an issue and you want to ask your Member of Congress to act, make sure you use your superpower.  Tell them explicitly that you’re a constituent.  Your superpower can help make sure your legislators hear what you have to say!

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