correspondence

Does Writing Your Congressman Actually Work? Yes, Sort Of

write-a-letter

In case you ever thought writing, calling, or emailing your representatives was a waste of time, take it from Steve Hildebrand, Barack Obama‘s openly gay deputy national campaign director: “I don’t think our voices are as powerful as they should be. I think too many people in the gay community do not push their elected officials as hard as they should. If you had 20 gay people together in a room and asked how many of them actually have reached out and either called, e-mailed or sent a letter to their member of Congress over the last two months, I would say the vast, vast majority of them will have done nothing. My suggestion is that people need to become strong activists, that we need to multiply by hundreds the number of activists we have in the gay community. We need more voices, we need louder voices, and we need to tell politicians at every level we’re not willing to take their excuses anymore.”

And in case you needed reason not to write, call, or email your representative: You will almost never be able to get her on the line. An office staffer will answer the phone (or sometimes just a voicemail box), sort the letters, and go through emails, responding with a form reply, if anything.

What those staffers will hand your legislator, likely, is a tally of how many notes and calls they received from X number of constituents on Y different issues. That summation, however, is what’s powerful. In a legislator’s very busy day, these briefs are easy to digest and send the most black-and-white picture of what his voters believe.

So yes, your letters and phone calls matter. In aggregate. JUST LIKE VOTES!

MORE FROM STEVE: “I would encourage gays and straights alike to put pressure on President Obama, on his administration, to call for action — immediate action on the laundry list of items that the gay community deserves for true equality in this country. What I don’t like is the suggestion by a lot of people that this guy has lied to us and that he isn’t fulfilling his campaign promises, when he’s only been in office for five months. He can’t change the world overnight and — I’m doing my best to say this without providing excuses — but this is a president who was handed a larger number of really big issues to deal with at the beginning of his presidency than any other president in history.

“I don’t think it’s just in his gut, I think it’s in his heart. You know, none of us can know somebody exactly, but I do believe this guy fundamentally in his heart believes that we should not stop fighting — whether it’s for gay civil rights or any other kind of equality — until the job is done. … I do believe that in his heart he will fight his tail off until we’ve achieved full equality in the gay community.”

[via Rex Wockner]