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How to write Senator or Congressman

Discussion in 'Action Alerts and Advocacy' started by Andrew, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Senior Member

    Messages:
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    Los Angeles, USA
    I found this on the Whittmore Peterson facebook:

    Tom wrote
    7 hours ago
    When writing to your Senator or Congressman, DON'T RELY ON EMAIL.

    I work with my non-profit association's lobbyists, and they've told me that federal elected officials get so much email they ignore it. It might as well be spam.

    They occasionally may have a staff member do a quick scan to tally responses on a specific issue from people in their District, but most email is never read.

    However, an actual physical piece of paper sent through the Post Office does get a bit more attention, especially if it's from someone in their District, and especially if it fits on one page.

    The most effective letter starts with a paragraph stating that you're in their District. You should include your personal connection with the issue. Example: You are my Representative in Congress, and I am writing to you because my wife has ME/CFIDS.

    The next paragraph should state clearly what action you want them to take. Confine your message to ONE ITEM. So if you want increased funding for ME/CFIDS research, don't also call for an investigation of the CDC; that should be a separate letter.

    Below that, add all the explanation and other details you want, but if it's too wordy, it will be ignored.

    A bulleted list would give your representative a quick understanding of why the requested action is important. (More people have CFIDS than lung cancer. Research by the WPI has uncovered a retrovirus with a strong link to CFIDS. Etc., etc.) There are enough of these "talking points" to fill a book, but pick your top ten. With so many to choose from, each person's list will be unique and your letter will not look like a mass-produced form letter.

    Also, good talking points give your rep. something they can use when advocating for you.

    Finally, try to read your letter from the recipient's perspective, and figure out what might get through to them. This is the hard part. Some may pay more attention to the monetary impact on workforce productivty than the physical and emotional pain being endured. They may respond better to the potential threat to the national blood supply than the specifics of the disease's symptoms.

    Most won't respond to anger and frustration, unfortunately. Rants are not effective.

    It takes just as much effort to type a letter as an email, but the additional effort of printing it out, addressing an envelope, applying a stamp and mailing the letter can vastly increase the probability that your message will be received.
     
  2. SDD1244

    SDD1244 Guest

    Andrew,

    Thank you for this. I actually called my Congresswoman and am still waiting for a response. I may end up writing a letter and sending it via snail mail.
     
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Senior Member

    Messages:
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    Los Angeles, USA
    Sounds like a wonderful idea!
     

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