Back when we last had a Republican administration, President George W. Bush’s, I used to publish “action plans” – people to call and things to ask them about or express opinions on. As we march forward into Trump’s America, this seems like a good habit to get back into.
For starters, you can and should feel free to email, tweet and Facebook your senators and representatives. However, the best thing to do is call them. More credence is always given to a phone call.
I know, I know, I loathe making phone calls as well. However, back when Bush was in office, I called my senators and representatives so often I swear they started to recognize me. Here are a few tips:
1. Be polite and civil.
Nobody wants to hear you yell and swear, and even if you don’t like or agree with your elected representative, you’re probably not going to be talking to them. You’re going to be talking to some hapless office minion who probably doesn’t deserve your yelling and swearing. Besides, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
2. Be concise.
Even hapless office minions are busy and they don’t have time to listen to your 300-page manifesto. Make a list of the topics you want to address and include a brief reason. I usually didn’t bother to threaten them with my vote, but I did always remind them that I was a constituent. An example:
“Hello, I’m Marci Sischo, and I’m a constituent of Carl Levin. I do not support the PATRIOT Act because it’s a gross invasion of our civil rights and privacy rights. I would appreciate it if Senator Levin opposed it wherever and whenever he can. Thank-you.”
If you’re a nervous caller, write it down and read it to whomever answers the phone.
3. Call early, often and on a schedule.
My usual time to call was first thing Monday morning, and before any important votes. I didn’t call every week, but I called most weeks.
4. Follow up with emails, tweets, etc.
After calling I generally followed up with an email, where I could go into more depth on a position or offer more reasons for supporting or not supporting whatever I was talking about. Again, be polite and concise. Representative offices deal with lots of assholes, and they’re busy, so your brevity and politeness might help you stand out. Plus, it’s always good to remember that even if you don’t agree with someone, you’re still talking to a human being and it’s not nice to treat someone badly just because you disagree.
What to Do Right Now
Trump doesn’t take office until January 20, but now’s a good time to practice. One thing you can call your senators and representatives about are Trump’s position appointments. Many of them have to be confirmed, so now is a good time to call your representatives and let them know that you do or don’t support certain job candidates.
NPR has a running list of various appointments, here.
Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury), Gen. James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce), Rep. Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services), Dr. Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation), Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Gov. Nikki Haley (Ambassador to the United Nations), Seema Verma (Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (Central Intelligence Agency Director) all require senate confirmation. Call your senators and let them know which ones you do or don’t support.
Another thing you can do is express support for Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, and ask your senators to appoint Garland to the SCotUS.
It’s also possible that President Obama could just appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court as a recess appointment. It’s not likely that Obama would do that, but he’s allowed to. There are some good arguments both for and against an action like that. Personally, I’m of the “any port in a storm” mindset and think Obama should do that, but I doubt it’ll happen. Still, it doesn’t hurt to mention it.
You can send the White House a message here.
To find contact information for your state and local officials (for state and local issues, which you should also be ringing bells about), check your state and local government websites.