Call to Action Toolkit
Contacting your representatives can seem a little daunting at first-- you may not know how to find your representatives, how to reach them, or what to say once you finally get someone on the phone. This toolkit aims to demystify that process, and to act as a starting point for coordinated political advocacy. Afterall, our representative work for us!
What’s the best method to contact my representatives?
Calls are the most effective method by far: see this NYT article for more information. Emails and letters can be ignored, but phone calls can’t, and representatives know that if they are receiving a high volume of calls on a particular issue, that issue is important to their constituents.
Who do I call?
Glad you asked. Some action guides will have specific people listed, but you'll likely want to look up information for your mayor, city council, state senators, governor, and for your House, and US Senate representatives. Once you've looked up their numbers we'd suggest adding them to your phone sorted under Politician. That way it will be easy to sort down the list of people to call for each action.
What do I say?
This is the hardest part for many of us here at STAND. You first have to know what issues to call about, and then you have to decide what to say once you've got someone on the phone. Finding a daily, or weekly action guide which includes phone calls is a really great place to start. Stand has a monthly "Call to Action" where we curate some urgent actions, summarize the issues, and offer a suggested script for making your calls. Oh, yeah, scripts! We think scripts are a really great way to overcome phone anxiety (that and lots of practice), so if you don't already have a script for a call you want to make, we think it's a good idea to write out what you want to say before you place your call. But it's cool if you prefer living on the edge.
Does this kind of advocacy actually work?
Yes! Think of the Tea Party’s methods, but used for good instead of evil. (Other notable examples include the grassroots opposition to George W. Bush’s attempts to privatize Social Security in 2004-2005, and the efforts of civil and women’s rights groups to block Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987.) Of course we won’t win on every issue, since we are facing powerful and determined political enemies. But the success of these campaigns is measured in more than just the immediate impact. By making these contacts, we will be building a network of trained and informed advocates who are ready to take quick action as new issues arise, and over time, organized campaigns can apply enough pressure to impact the decisions of local, state and national representatives.