“I call, write, and email my members of Congress all the time and I never get a real answer from the staff or intern who answers the phone. I don’t see the point in contacting them and wasting my time. I feel like because I never get an answer, my voice is never heard.”
Does this sound familiar?
It is important to know that regardless of whether a staff member gives you a definitive answer, your ideas and concerns are being heard.
Here is what typically happens when you call a Congressional office.
The staff member will answer the phone and take note of your concern. Pithy, fact-based inquires about where your representative stands will always go further than yelling or resorting to abusive comments. If the staff member reveals very little information on where the representative stands on an issue, do not lose hope. Your voice has been heard.
Throughout the day, a staff member will receive hundreds of calls and emails on a variety of topics. Staffs update and maintain a quick tally on the most talked about issues. Depending on the quantity of those constituent interactions, the member of Congress, Chief of Staff, or Legislative Director will identify concerns that are also most important to a district. If a certain issue reaches a particularly high volume of call-ins, a member will have no choice but to defend his or her position and issue a response.
Now you might be saying, “Well I track their actions in Congress, contact them on issues that they will be voting on, and still I receive no answer.” This means more inquires about these issues are needed. New names and addresses flowing into their offices raises the level of concern for those members. The staff will assume constituents are becoming increasingly educated on these issues and that the grassroots in their district is organized and motivated. When members lack control over the narrative in their district, they know the status quo has been threatened.
All jobs require persistence and dedication to achieve a successful outcome. Congressional accountability is no different. Calling, emailing, writing – these are all critical in the fight for lasting accountability.