There is so much involved in being an effective, engaged, informed voter and constituent that we’ve created a special page to gather all of the information that you should be familiar with when you decide to contact your Member of Congress or other government representative or official about a particular issue. We started developing our thoughts on how to go about it when the Ol’ Pussy Grabber was in office and the Repubes controlled both Houses of Congress. We updated it when the Democrats took the House in 2018. Now that Dems control both Congress and the Presidency, we’ve updated it again. We rely heavily on Indivisible’s guide and Five Calls.
In addition, we provide a list of links to our posts on individual bills and issues before Congress or being considered by an agency or other government official. In each post, I’ll give you (1) the background information on the issue, (2) a script — when appropriate and necessary — to follow when calling, writing, or social mediaing, (3) an abbreviated version of our tips, hints, and suggestions, and (4) links to how to find your contact for your MoC, other government officials, and informational websites.
This page is organized like this, so feel free to skip to the part that interests you most:
- Call Your MoC: This is a list of links to posts and pages about legislation and other issues that you might want to contact your MoC or other government official about.
- The Hierarchy of Contact: You have choices on how you contact your whoever it is you’re interested in contacting. They are listed in order of effectiveness, so you can make an informed decision about what you’ll do.
- Tips, Hints, and Suggestions: Exactly what it sounds like, a list of things that you might not have thought or knew about, but you would wish you had after you called.
- Informational Links: A list of links that will lead you to everything you need to know to contact your MoC, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and social media accounts. There are a few other things in the list, too, like a link to Five Calls and the phone numbers to Nancy Pelosi’s and Mitch McConnell’s offices as well as the phone number for the White House and Congressional switchboards.
- A link to Indivisible: Indivisible doesn’t really fit anywhere on this list, but they have information about (a) groups to join, (b) actions to take, (c) ways of influencing your MoC, and (d) information about bills and issues before Congress, so I thought I’d throw it in too. Kinda like a bonus.
Call Your MoC About
- Sorting Out the #COVID19 Relief Bill Mess (posted on 20 December 2020)
- Tweet Mitch McConnell about the Bipartisan #COVID19 Relief Bill — UPDATED (Posted on 10 December 2020 — UPDATED on 19 December 2020)
- Call Your MoC about a #COVID19 Relief Bill (posted on 2 December 2020)
- Protect Our Democracy: Contact the Michigan State Legislative Leaders (posted on 20 November 2020)
- Contact the Administrator of GSA and Tell Her to Begin the Transition (posted on 11 November 2020)
- #RBG’s SCOTUS Replacement (posted on 22 September 2020)
- The Post Office Monkey Shines of the Trump Regime (posted on 15 August 2020)
- The Coronavirus Relief Package (posted on 20 July 2020)
- Stopping the Federal Police Agencies in Portland (posted on 19 July 2020)
- The HEROES Act (posted on 10 July 2020)
Hierarchy of Contact
Not every contact with your Member of Congress is created equally. Here’s the hierarchy, you’ve got to balance what you can do with what is most effective. The rule of thumb is the more personal the contact with the Congress person, the more effective it will be. They listed this hierarchy (in order of most to least effective):
- In person, or what passes for in person during the time of #COVID19. Being in their office either in person or virtually and talking to the Congress person or a staff member is your best bet for getting your message heard.
- Phone call. Phone calls are probably the easiest thing to do on the list. You pick up your phone, dial, and yack either at a person or a machine. That’s good, but we also know that there are too many ways for Congress folks to dodge phone calls like allowing their voicemail in-boxes to fill-up and letting the intern either field calls or tally recordings.
- Personal letter or postcard. If you can’t go down to the office or make a call, write. Write in longhand. The more personal, the better, remember? In spite of the sabotage of the post office in 2020, most mail will be delivered across town or even across state in a day or two, so it’s reasonably timely and reliable.
- A form letter or petition. You see these on social media all the time. Text to this number and they’ll send a postcard. Sign the petition and they’ll deliver it. It makes it easier for you to do, and I guess it makes up for its lack of impact through its larger numbers? But, you wouldn’t be here reading this and thinking about calling your MoC if you were all about ease and comfort. There’s nothing easy, comforting, or comfortable about reading my syntactically garbled ranting snarky posts.
Tips, Hints, Suggestions and Stuff
When you contact your Member of Congress or other government official, please remember the following:
- Be polite! No matter whose office you’re contacting or how you’re contacting them. No matter what their positions are. No matter how inflamed you are about the issue — and you should be very passionate — be polite.
- Remember that the people you are talking to are people! So, be nice.
- Maybe call with friends. You know like a party.
Only Contact YOUR MoC
- They don’t listen to you if you’re not a constituent. So, you’re wasting your time, their time, everyone’s time just to make yourself feel better by bitching out McConnell’s intern or whatever. If you gotta get something off your chest for a specific MoC, social media at them.
- You’re tying up resources that real constituents need to make their views known. If you’re calling, you’re filling-up the phone in-box or giving someone a busy signal. If you’re writing or showing up in person, then you’re taking up space and attention that is better directed at real live American constituents.
- You’re giving them an excuse to blow off the issue entirely because of outside agitation.
Coordination Makes an Impact
- Having a group either visit, call, or mail letters has a bigger impact than just one person doing it, and it’s more fun. So, get your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, kidnap victims, whoever together and pass the phone around. Make it a day drinking game. Call in sick to work. It’s fun for the whole family!
- This is a real good reason to join an Indivisible chapter if you haven’t already. There are thousands of them dotted across the land. They sprouted and grew like bamboo or invasive muesli after 2017.
- I know those emails that claim to be from Elizabeth Warren, other political celebrities, or at least a real name are annoying, but they do help coordinate national action on issues. So, if a Congress person realizes that they just got a gazillion calls on issue X on the same day, then they know there’s a group that is pushing the issue and has voters behind it. See how that works for the anxious-to-be-re-elected Congress critter?
Film at 11:00
If you meet with your Congress person or staffer, film the interaction — this is where having a group comes in handy, one person talks, another one glares, and the third one films. So, if they are squirming or hemming and hawing or saying stupid stuff, you could go viral, and isn’t that everyone’s dream in this age of social media?
Use the Local Press
Again, if you’re going down as a large group, the press will cover it. If you’ve got a large phoning party, the press will cover it. And, you know who reads the local press? Congress folk, do, or at least their interns do. If you make the hometown newspaper or TV news, you’ve got that Congress person’s attention! So, go on, grab ’em by the press!
Be sure and take a moment to review their other suggestions from their first guide. Those worked in 2017, and they’ll will work in 2021. Give yourself a little refresher. Also, think up a few of your own and share ’em with the class right down there in the comments.
- Call during business hours of the area code their office is in. Typically, that is 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
- Have a script or notes to follow so you don’t forget anything.
- Understand your Member of Congress so that you are making an effective appeal depending on whether they are Democratic or Repube, supporting the issue or against, progressive, monderate, or conservative, or a part of the rank and file or member of leadership. Each have a different set of issues to contend with. Find the complete exploration of the “types” of Congressional person you are likely to find at Call Your Member of Congress: The Save Our Democracy, edition.
In Addition to Calling
I’ve heard back from readers that some MoC’s voice mail boxes are always full! It’s as if they don’t want to hear from their constituents. Kinda like those MoC’s who don’t hold town halls or other open forum meetings. Here are some other ways to contact your MoC:
- Send a postcard to their office. Nothing says I care like kicking it old school and using snail mail.
- Email their office. Lay out your concerns in a brief email and send it in. We all know how easy it is to email. Make sure you include the issue you are addressing in the subject line.
- Use the contact page on their website. This is the surest way of getting a message to them. Each MoC has an official government website and each has a contact page that comes with it automatically.
- Contact them using social media. It’s hard to break through all the noise on social media, but it can’t hurt to try given all the time we all spend using it. Be sure to tag your MoC’s when social mediaing about about a specific issue. Be clear and respectful, though, when addressing an issue that you want your MoC to act upon. Make sure you let them know you are a constituent.
Contacting Your MoC
Get your MoC’s contact information, contact information for others, track legislation, and some other information in this list and these links.
- Common Cause will give you the names, party affiliation, direct phone number, website link, and social media platforms of all of your federal, state, and local elected officials.
- GovTrack is a comprehensive site of federal and state legislation.
- USA.gov is the official guide to information and services of the US government. This page explains clearly how to contact everyone from the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to your representative to specific government agencies. Through it you can find the following information about your MoC’s:
- Their phone numbers: DC and state offices
- Their mailing addresses both in DC and their state offices
- Official website with their contact page including email, request a meeting, town hall schedules, and social media
- And, the committees they sit on
- 5 Calls: Sign-up for 5 Calls because they help you contact your member of Congress and keep you abreast of on going issues that are important to you! Now, that is a good deal.
- The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.
- MassacreMitch and #MoscowMitch: His DC office, (202) 224-2541.
- Nancy Pelosi: Her DC office, (202) 225-4965; her California office, (415) 556-4862
- The WH switchboard: (202) 456-1414 or the comments line at (202) 456-1111 during business hours
Follow the link to Indivisible to find a group near you, their campaigns, events in your neighborhood, and download their handy-dandy booklet!
There is no image! Ha! It’s a page, so no header image allowed.
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