In the United States a common question on a lot of people’s mind is, “What do we do now that Donald Trump has been elected president?”
That comes from supporters as well as detractors.
So you may be asking:
“Someone who I believe is dangerous to the country has been elected. What do we now to stop him from damaging our country?”
OR you may be asking
“Thankfully Donald Trump has been elected president but he is only one man. What do we do to stop the political elites from stopping him from doing what needs to be done to fix this country?”
Unfortunately, many folks have decided the answer to either question is to start a fight on Facebook or Twitter. The next time you’re about to do that, do the following instead.
Write your Senators and Representatives. Yes I know that sounds like a trite answer that has been bandied about for literally centuries.
BUT many of you find the time to write a lot on social media. And while I’m not saying you shouldn’t— after all a free discussion is lifeblood of a republic— it is significantly less effective than taking that time you spent writing a Facebook post to write to your representatives. And writing to them is easier than ever before.
BUT I’m not from here, I’m, not registered to vote, etc.
It doesn’t matter, as long as you live in the United States.
All you need is an address. US Senators and representatives are sworn to serve the people in their states or districts. Voting is a privilege reserved for adult citizens, yes, but representation is for anybody who lives in the area. If you can be taxed, you get representation.
I will argue that filling out a form on a Congressperson’s website makes this easier than it’s ever been. But I would be remiss if I didn’t note that:
Writing a letter is often more effective than calling–
Calling is often more effective than emailing–
BUT Emailing or filling out the Website’s form is always more effective than posting on social media.
You can read more on what actually works with Congressional staffers here.
FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
To find your representative go to http://ziplook.house.gov/ Sometimes all you need is a zip code. For some districts you may need to specify a street address.
For Senators it’s even easier. Just go to http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ and look for your state.
Now you have the contact info. All you need to do is know what to say. And this is where it differs from Facebook. You need to be polite.
HOW TO PHRASE YOUR OPINION
First of all, only send messages to *your* representative. You’ll need to give them your address and they are only bound to represent people in their district. So don’t be anonymous and don’t write to representatives in other districts. Start with your name and address.
Be factual, not emotional. State what the issue is “You will be voting on the confirmation of a nominee for Attorney General”
Or if it’s a bill state the bill number. “You will be voting on the “Foreign Registration Act SB-1234”
State how it affects you, again without stridency or emotion. “I am greatly concerned with crime/rights in my community.” It is good to include examples or evidence to support your position but keep it short. This should be less than one page in length.
Finish with your request for action. “I urge you sincerely to vote yes/no for the confirmation/bill.”
Don’t swear. Don’t threaten. Don’t joke. Don’t write anonymously and don’t demand a response.
You can find more, including proper forms of address for Representatives and Senators in this article: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/letterscongress.htm
With so many members of congress including Web forms on their official pages, it is just as easy to post to them as it is to your Facebook friends. And you will not get into a flame war. Instead you will have registered your opinion with someone who can actually vote based on it. Who is bound to consider it.
Your opinion alone will certainly not determine their vote, but most people do not write their representatives so if you do, you will have made your voice count a lot more than the others who do not. And you had much more of an effect than your argument on Facebook.
So here’s my suggestion. The next time you’re about to post on social media about something because you think something needs to be done and folks are getting things wrong. Take a moment and write that same thing, respectfully, to your Senator or Representative, instead.
Then you can finish your social media post with “and I’ve been in communication with Congress about this.”
PS: Yes if you do not live in the US then none of this applies. I would suggest possibly writing to the local US embassy or possibly to the President directly.