POLL: Do know who your congressman is? Do you call or write to express your will?

Today I called the office of my congressman and told the intern who answered that I want the congressman to vote in favor of H.R. 3350, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which is coming up for a vote.  My congressman is a Democrat (of course – I live in one of the most liberal places in these USA), so telling him what I want won’t simply confirm what a Republican will probably do anyway.

Do you know who your congressman is?  For those of you in other countries, do you know who represents you in government?  Really?  Honestly?

Do you ever call in or send emails and tell them how you want them to vote?

Here is a little poll.  Yes, I know I could have a few more options, but I don’t care.  Just pick the option that is closest.  ANYONE can vote, but registered users can use the combox.

Do you know who your representative(s) are? Honestly?

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And also:

Do you call or write to elected officials and tell them your views?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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27 Responses to POLL: Do know who your congressman is? Do you call or write to express your will?

  1. Melody says:

    There needs to an entry for those of us who live in overwhelmingly liberal areas.

    Do you know who your representative(s) are? Honestly?
    I know one of them is Nancy Pelosi. Most of them are liberal democrats though.
    Do you call or write to elected officials and tell them your views?
    No. See the above.

  2. Amy Giglio says:

    I know who my representatives are, and I write or call very rarely. I live in a deep blue city in a deep blue county in the bluest of blue states, New Jersey. And it will be at least 10 years before anyone will listen to my concerns in my district since it has been gerrymandered to assure that my vote will never count.

  3. Amy Giglio says:

    I know who my representatives are, and I write or call very rarely. I live in a deep blue city in a deep blue county in the bluest of blue states, New Jersey. And it will be at least 10 years before anyone will listen to my concerns in my district since it has been gerrymandered to assure that my vote will never count.

  4. HeatherPA says:

    My husband and I both write and call our state and local reps on matters important. One of our senators is the so called “catholic” senator Bob Casey, who my husband always reminds of his obligation to the Catholic faith in every single thing he writes to him.
    We receive form emails in response from Senator Casey, never anything that indicates he actually read what we have written. At least we are trying.

  5. ghp95134 says:

    HA!

    Diane Feinstein
    Barbara Boxer
    Zoe Lofgren

    I’m in the vast minority (conservative) in the SF Bay Area.

    –Guy

  6. Austin Catholics says:

    My federal Representative and both Senators are Republicans, and I really let them know how angry I was about the government shut-down last month and how irresponsible the party was.

    Other than that, maybe a few times a year I write to federal and state (Dem) representatives about selected issues. Better to write about specific bills than general rants.

  7. majuscule says:

    I’m also in the SF Bay Area, represented by feminist women, at least one of whom is nominally Catholic. I gave up contacting them.

    I always felt a hand written or even a printer typed letter carried more weight than a phone call. But these women are so extreme that I feel ignored. (No, I’m not in Nancy Pelosi’s district, but close…)

    Fr. Z, this posting has prompted me to enter their contact info into my address book so their info is right there and I can call them at a moment’s notice. And I will remember to mention her faith to the one who claims to be Catholic.

  8. 1tiredmomma says:

    During the filibuster of Wendy Davis here in Texas I called her office. I am a constituent and was completely ignored. I posted a simple and respectful quote of Mother Theresa on Wendy’s public Facebook page and was blocked not only from her page, but from posting anything on Facebook for 24 hours. I am not the only one. It will not deter me from calling and speaking out in the future.

  9. JohnE says:

    It’s much more likely when there’s an organization that has already written something and I can just attach my name and send. Occasionally I will write something myself, but since my reps are blue they either don’t reply or reply to defend their vote in opposition to my wishes, not addressing the points I’ve made. Since I’m getting a form letter in return, why not send a form letter in the first place? My guess is that they just tally the emails and calls that are for or against anyway, so basically I’m just registering my tally mark with them. At least if they see a lot of opposition to their votes, they won’t have to wonder why they got voted out (hopefully).

  10. mr205 says:

    Father,
    I worked for a Congressman for a few years after college in DC. My job was “legislative correspondent.” So, I was in charge of answering the mail and phone calls. Most people would be surprised that contacting your Congressman does more than you think. That being said, if you live in Nancy Pelosi’s district and you write to ask her to support a Republican bill…well, your letter/phone call probably won’t mean much.

    If, however, your representative is say a Democrat in a district where he relies on Republican votes to get elected or say your representative has a lot of Catholic voters, then your contact is more likely to have some effect if it is, say, a Catholic issue. Generally, most offices have a policy that the response you get in return depends on how much effort you put into the contact. I was to give more attention to hand written letters than say a two line all caps email or a phone call.

    99% of the mail and phone calls never make it past the screener to the representative or senator’s desk. But, stats on how many people are writing or calling do. If say, however, you are Father Z writing on parish stationary from X parish in the district, I would have probably flagged your letter for my boss to look at.

    That being said, the way to be successful is to bypass the screener and talk directly to the politician. Many politicians will meet with anyone from their district who is willing to travel to Washington to talk to them. Most politicians want to be liked, and they don’t like telling people no, especially people they feel are important to the community. It’s pretty hard to look a man in the eye wearing a Collar or a Nun in a Habit and say, “Sorry, I can’t help you.”

    A good example of effective lobbying like this is whatever group it is (the name escapes me) that lobbies for funding for children’s cancer research. They’d fly 4 or 5 kids from the Congressman’s hometown up and have the kids ask the Congressman to co-sponsor their bill. Works like a charm, every time. We’d say, “Sir, this bill funding level is way, way to high.” The boss would always respond, “I don’t care, sign me on anyway.” The people who lobby for the blind also are really good at this. One day you’ll see hundreds of blind people walking the halls of Congress. It’s a powerful message. The key to getting a meeting is to ask to speak to the scheduler and don’t take no for an answer. Say, “I know he is busy, that is why I am flexible on when I can come by the office.”

  11. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’ve given up calling or writing. I’m stuck in deep, smurf blue territory too. My apologies if I have offended any smurfs.

  12. beefcake73099 says:

    During the great gun grab attempt of 2013 I found myself getting much more involved. Since then I try to keep in touch even though I will always be listened to. Its annoying that no matter if my rep agrees with my opinion or disagrees with my opinion, the usual communication is always in the format of a form letter.

    One rep I really like is Justin Amash in MI. I think he and others like him are the future of the republican party but when he votes he explains on his facebook page exactly what the vote was for, what its effects would be, how he voted, why he voted that way, and what the outcome was. Its an effective way for a politician to be kept honest and for letting concerned constituents know what is motivating their reps voting.

  13. off2 says:

    I’m a strict constructionist type conservative living in California. On occasion I’ve written, called, or emailed. The rare responses have ranged from, “Thank you for contacting … We value your [unreferenced] opinion.” to a hostilely written diatribe suggesting I was morally deficient and/or very ignorant for supporting a conservative candidate for the supreme court.

    I continue to live in CA ’cause most of my family is here, and I’m very old. I’ve voted in every election but one (emergency travel) for well over half a century. May not in the next. Sadly, I see the system as terminally broken, with no public will to repair it.

  14. rsbsa says:

    I wrote to Senator Durbin today, demanding resignation for gross negligence in regards to the ACA. I included several quotes from the last few years that were either bold lies or complete incompetence.
    I don’t expect a response, other than possibly a form letter apology. But I’d rather write and give it the chance that I may be heard than be self defeatist and not even try.

  15. SKAY says:

    Yes I know who both of my Senators and Congressman are–also my state Rep. and Senator.
    I do contact them when a bill is being considered that I feel strongly about. Trust me–the other side certainly does. If that is all they hear–than they think the rest of us agree with that view.

    Senator”Louisiana Purchase” Landrieu is one of my Senators. When a controversial vote is coming up her screener says that she has not made a decision yet–then at the last minute she votes with Obama. It is so aggravating to hear her constantly referred to as a moderate. She is not–she just likes to pretend to be in order to fool enough low info voters to get re-elected. The rest she buys.

    Her bill – because of what is still in the Obamacare bill – will drive up the cost even more to those trying to keep their insurance that they are perfectly happy with. I do not trust anything the Democrats are doing — and that is certainly true of Landrieu. If she were not up for re-election she would NOT be pushing this bill–because she is up to her usual re-election tricks again. She certainly voted not to include herself and her family in this fiasco. We know they want to eventually force us into single payer so they will have complete control of everyone’s healthcare — and therefore our lives. We see what they have used the IRS for. 2014 will bring more surprises–particularly for those on Medicare. I heard a Doctor today trying to point out what they will be doing concerning payments to Doctors–Seniors will begin to find out that they will not be able to find a Doctor. All of this is by design.
    This thing needs to be repealed and we the people need to speak up loudly.

  16. TomG says:

    As a Maryland resident, my U.S. Senators are Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin. My congressman is Elijah Cummings. I had occasion to contact Sen. Mikulski several years ago regarding a VA matter. She and her staff were tremendous; they really understand constituent services. But all of my local, state and Federal reps are total liberals. Never the twain shall meet.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    I voted “Yes, but very rarely”.

    I actually only did it once, when the Bishops of the USA asked all Catholics to contact their “representatives” in regards to the HHS Mandate. My “representatives” are all liberal democrats, so I knew what the response would be, but did it anyway. I received a bunch of insipid emails in reply, taking my concerns into no consideration whatsoever. “Representatives” indeed!

  18. John Woolley says:

    I sometimes write to my two Senators (Udall and Bennet, of Colorado) just to enjoy their unbelievably predictable, stupid, party-line echoing responses.

    I sometimes drop a line to my Representative (Mike Coffman) to say “Attaboy, good vote, keep it up.”

  19. Facta Non Verba says:

    Congressman Keith Ellison, Senator Al Franken, and Senator Amy Klobachaur. How did I ever get to be so lucky? I feel like an insulated minority. Other than some judges and the conservation officer, I don’t believe anyone I have ever voted for while living in this district has been elected. And yes, I write each on occasion, asking them to support various bills. I get back canned responses with Democratic talking points.

  20. kat says:

    My two senators are the Democrats from Michigan and no matter what I write to them they will vote against what I believe in. It is a waste of a stamp, phone call, or email time to bother to change their minds. Senator Levin needs to go away, and is retiring soon; but who knows who will replace him…
    My congresswoman, on the other hand, is awesome, and normally votes for everything I want. I write to thank her.

  21. Di says:

    Do you know who your representative(s) are? Honestly?
    Yes, I do
    John Boehner/Congress
    Sherrod Brown/ Senator/Liberal
    Rob Portman/Senator/Rino, traitor

    Do you call or write to elected officials and tell them your views?
    I call often, not only my representatives but many of them. I usually ask them if they have children and if they want to their children growing up in a God less country that stands for nothing?
    I told John Boehner’s office that I personally didn’t care about what kind of trash they(powers that be) had on him but I did care that he is not upholding the Constitution something that he took and Oath to do. He took an Oath to uphold the Constitution and he has not done that. I asked for him to actually live his Catholic faith and Catholics, as Pope Leo XIII said: “Catholics were born for combat”Rerum Novarum May 15, 1891. I asked him to stand for something and grow a spine, and stop selling us out and to give back his pieces of silver.
    Before you ask, they have not blocked my phone calls yet.

  22. J Kusske says:

    I live in Beijing. The less contact I have with the government, the better.

  23. JonPatrick says:

    I used to know my Congresspersons when I lived in MA but we recently moved to Maine, so I am still working on finding out which of the group of Liberals and RINOs that run the state actually represent me.

  24. SKAY says:

    Di–Thank you. I call my Representative -Charles Boustany(R) to thank him for
    many of his votes(not all and I let him know that also) -but also let him know when I am unhappy with where the Speaker seems to be going on certain matters. They sometimes worry more about what the MSM(who are always lecturing the Republicans on bi-partisanship) than what their voters at home care about. Interesting how the Democrats never get that lecture.
    It is good to know that Boehner’s constituents are calling to remind him who put him there in the first place and why.

  25. bookworm says:

    Speaking of sending a message to your elected representatives… this looks like as good a place as any to pass this news along:

    http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x825431706/Bishop-Paprocki-Same-sex-marriage-grave-sin

    “The head of Springfield’s Catholic Diocese issued a statement Thursday calling for a repeal of same-sex marriage and saying politicians who helped enact it are “morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.”

    “Bishop Thomas John Paprocki also said he will offer “prayers of supplication and exorcism” on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to sign the same-sex marriage legislation into law.

    “Paprocki’s statements were contained in a news release announcing the prayer service he will conduct next week at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.”

    (The prayer service is scheduled to take place at exactly the same time that Gov. Quinn will be holding a signing ceremony in Chicago for the same-sex marriage bill.)

    “’It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church,’ Paprocki said.

    “That could be directed at House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Catholic who invoked the words of Pope Francis during a floor speech in support of the same-sex marriage bill. Pope Francis, speaking to reporters in July, said, ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?’”

    Returning to our topic….

    My congressman is, currently, Rodney Davis (R-IL13). So far his voting record has been good, and I haven’t felt compelled to contact him for any reason. I am right on the edge of a traditionally Republican district, and haven’t yet been gerrymandered out of it, though the Democrats are trying their damnedest to do so. Our Senators are infamously liberal (Durbin) and RINO (Kirk) so I don’t even bother with them.

  26. Hypersomniac says:

    I actually met with the Chief of Staff for one of our senators and the Deputy State Director for our representative the other day. Then again, it is my job as the head of a pro-life non-profit to lobby. The good thing is, they listen to us and vote pro-life. It makes my job easier.

  27. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Z writes, “For those of you in other countries, do you know who represents you in government?” In countries like the U.S. and England where there is a district system, the constituent has a direct geographical link with the representative.

    Does anyone have suggestions for what the best ways are for (possibly) effectively letting those in the legislative body know their thoughts in countries without such district representation (with the exception of those like J Kusske who can well say, “The less contact I have with the government, the better”)?