Tips For Calling Government Officials
We’re hearing from groups like Common Cause, that GOP supporters are calling their senators 6 times more often than Dems are. Senator Bennet talked to my Indivisible group recently, and he said that it was critically important that we call, even if we already know that our senator supports our issues. The calls are tallied, and when there are enough calls supporting or protesting an issue, that gives the senator talking points to use to convince legislators who are on the fence.
For those of us who are die-hard introverts, calling government officials can be terrifying. I know. I used to stomp around my apartment and shiver myself into a cold sweat for hours every time I felt I needed to call an official.
--- Pro tip: Take a few big breaths and tell yourself that it’s easy to call your elected officials. Also, it gets easier with practice.
First, find your legislators. This website can help: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
There are lots of ways to make calling easier. Here’s what has worked for me:
- Write an email to your elected officials. Emails aren’t as effective as phone calls, but they are tallied. I keep a draft of my email so that when I call the officials, I have a script. That’s almost as good as calling twice!
- Call after hours, thereby guaranteeing that you’ll get voice mail. No scary human interaction!
- The staffers who answer the phone are unfailingly polite. The call often goes like this:
- Staffer: How can I help you?
- Me: My name is Adrianne Middleton, and I live in MyTown, CO, zip code 88888. I want Senator Hickenlooper to eliminate the filibuster. The filibuster will kill S.1, the For the People Act. With more than 350 bills to restrict voting rights before state legislatures across the country, the For the People Act is more critical than ever before, and we can’t afford to lose our right to vote.
- Staffer: Thank you. I’ll let Senator Hickenlooper know.
When you’re writing your script, be sure to include your name, your city, state and zip code. This allows staffers to confirm that you are a constituent. It helps to say the number and name of the bill. You don’t need to write a 10-page essay on why this is important to you. One or two reasons is enough.
Remember, you’re not the only one calling. You don’t have to convince your elected official all by yourself. Several years ago so many people called Senator Gardner protesting his anti-abortion stance that we overwhelmed his staff, we overwhelmed his voicemail, and he started waffling. Together we can move mountains.
-Adrianne, Director of Operations & Louisville Coordinator [bio]