Contacting Representatives: Resistbot

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Resistbot is a pretty sweet little tool that takes messages you text and turns them into hard copies to send to Congress via fax or mail. Aside from a few tweaks as users get more experienced, that’s all there is to it–which means that if you hate making phone calls, it’s never been easier to share your thoughts with your representatives!

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Contacting Representatives: OurStates

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While we talk a lot about contacting our national representatives to fight big-name Trump and GOP appointments and policies, we shouldn’t forget the effect of bills coming through the states, everything from anti-trans bathroom bills to attempts to criminalize protest. I’ve tried to use my state legislature’s website for guidance on which Reps to call and when, but it seems simply not meant for that purpose.

Enter OurStates. OurStates can search by category and tell you exactly which bills on that subject are going through your state legislature right now. It’s new and still has relatively few categories; I expect we’ll see it expand over the coming weeks and months, so check back and keep making those calls!

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Everything that affects whether calling your Reps actually influences policy

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How seriously those messages are taken by Congress varies widely, chiefly because, when it comes to interacting with the public, there’s really no such thing as Congress per se. There are five hundred and thirty-five small businesses that together form the legislative arm of government, and their way of dealing with constituents can differ as much as their politics…

…For constituent activity to have more immediate effects on the actions of lawmakers, however, other conditions—most of them necessary, none of them necessarily sufficient—must apply. Broadly speaking, these include a huge quantity of people acting in concert, an unusually high pitch of passion, a specific countervailing vision, and consistent press coverage unfavorable to sitting politicians. Together, these can create the most potent condition of all: the possibility (or, at any rate, the fear) that the collective restiveness could jeopardize reëlection.

pub. 03/2017

Indivisible on town halls and other ways to get face time with your representatives

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Where on earth has your Member of Congress gone? Something strange has been happening in the last month or so: Members of Congress (MoCs) from all over the country are going missing. They’re still turning up for votes on Capitol Hill, and they’re still meeting with lobbyists and friendly audiences back home—but their public event schedules are mysteriously blank. Odd.

This is happening for a very simple reason: MoCs do not want to look weak or unpopular—and they know that Trump’s agenda is very, very unpopular. … Some MoCs have clearly made the calculation that they can lay low, avoid their constituents, and hope the current storm blows over. It’s your job to change that calculus.

pub. 02/2017

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The week of February 17-26 is the first district work period (“recess”) of the new Congress. Members of Congress (MoCs) will be back home holding public events and meeting with constituents. These meetings are a great opportunity for your group to remind your MoCs that they need to stand up for you—and that means standing up against the Trump agenda. Below are some tips on how to maximize this opportunity to influence your MoCs.

pub. 02/2017

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

The most effective ways to contact your representatives (for non-high-profile issues)

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The report focuses on small decisions—ones where the senator or representative isn’t facing a lot of high profile pressure, and where they might be undecided or easily swayed. Decisions like those make up most of a congressperson’s work, the report says. While they might not be front page news, they can matter a lot to you as a citizen. And those issues are where citizens’ communications carry the most weight.

pub. 02/2017

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

Acts of resistance: Why and how to visit your congressperson

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pub. 02/2017

The resistance group wall-of-us sends out weekly acts subscribers can commit to doing themselves. While my national representatives are largely in my corner*, one of this week’s wall-of-us actions describes the scenes large groups of constituents can make at town halls when faced with representatives who aren’t actually representing them. This tactic was one tool used effectively by the right-wing Tea Party movement before installing its own candidates in office, and the left should be able to do the same.

*Even if yours are in your corner too, calls and direct emails are still effective: Your representatives will be far more likely to confidently resist the other side’s agenda when they can say “Sorry, I received 50,000 calls from my constituents telling me to vote against this bill, and they’re the people I represent. I cannot negotiate on this one.”

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.