You are a Constituent! You can have an impact on legislation!
How can you as an individual have an impact on legislation?
…As a constituent your views do matter. How you express your views also matters.
Even if your representative is not of your party, you are still his/her constituent. Make your views known. Even if you know your representative is for a particular issue or legislation that you favor, he/she can still use your support. The important thing is to contact your representative on every issue you believe in or are opposed to.
The Congressional Management Foundation (www.cmfweb.org) has just released a report based on a survey of 260 congressional staff members on their opinions of communications from constituents. The survey asked, “If your Member/Senator has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issue, how much influence might the following advocacy strategies directed to the Washington office have on his/her decision?”
What did they find; what are the best ways to get your views across? In order of effectiveness:
In person issue visits to the Washington office or a district/state office are more effective in influencing an undecided Member than any other contact.
Individualized postal mail and email are about equally effective in influencing undecided Members of Congress. Note these are “personalized” mailings – form postal mail, email and fax have the least influence on legislators.
(Some helpful ways to personalize your messages include (1) discussing the impact of a bill on the state or district, (2) providing the reasons you support or oppose the bill or issue, and (3) providing a relevant personal story. It was also noted that “The ease with which constituents can communicate with their Member has really diluted the quality of communications overall. We get way too many email inputs that forward the Congressman some email or YouTube link with ‘is this true’ as the only message.”)
Questions at town hall meetings and letters to the editor have “a lot” to “some” influence.
Personal phone calls to the Washington or district/state office (see personalizing messages above).
Comments during a Telephone Town Hall.
Individualized faxes are about equal to visits from Lobbyists.
At the bottom of the list are postcards, form letters, emails and faxes and comments on social media.
To read the entire report, “Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill”, go to
The report introduction begins, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” That statement by Thomas Jefferson is a commentary on citizens’ right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Effective communications and interactions between citizens and elected officials are essential to the democratic process, both to sustain the credibility of government and to maintain a free flow of ideas which can be integrated into policy decisions.”
This website has several pages of information on advocating, letters to the editor and finding your representatives.
https://dflseniors.wordpress.com/letters-to-editor/ Letters to ditor
https://dflseniors.wordpress.com/advocate/ Lobbying and advocating
https://dflseniors.wordpress.com/your-representatives/ Contact your representatives
When you have strong feelings on an issue don’t put off contacting your legislators, just pick up you pen, fire up your computer, get on the telephone or put on your boots and make a visit. The message to all of us is “Just do it.” Together we make a difference.