I'm surprised by the numerous recommendations given on this site in various topics to "write to my representatives" with my issues. Are there still people that believe that ANY elected official listens to his/her constituents? You must have BAGS of money to get an ear from a politician these days!
I'm in my 20s. Is that too young to be jaded and to have given up on our government?
While I doubt that my rep listens to all that I write about, I can only hope that if enough people feel the same as I do on any given subject and tell them so maybe they will listen.
My vote is only one but if I and everyone that agrees with me choose to vote for someone that agrees with our views and not who the most attractive or the one that has the least bad ads about him/her maybe the rotten ones will eventually be gone and we will be listened to.
We elect representatives not leaders and maybe someday we and our "representatives" will understand that they are here for us and not for the corporations or the ones that bribe them with the most promises of after politic jobs & $$.
Jordan- Have you ever actually written to your representatives? I don't mean signing an internet petition, as well-intentioned as those are. I mean a letter with a name, an address, and a position on something.
Because sometimes it takes a long time, but they write back. Not a personal response- a staffer puts together something, and if they get boxes of letters on the same subject, the same response usually goes out to everyone who wrote in on that issue, whatever position you took.
Congresspeople have to get elected. In the House, they have to do it every two years. Which means they're always running for re-election, which means they're always eager to find out what issues are the ones that matter to their constituents so they can get some headlines in their local papers about how much progress they are making on those issues. Apparently actual scientific polls are really, really expensive, especially if you have a narrow target like a Congresional district, which doesn't necessarily fit geographic or governmental boundaries. So public input is something that they keep track of carefully. The numbers I have heard are these- for every letter a Congressman gets about a topic, the staffer assumes that it represents a the views of a hundred people in the district. These days, with e-mail, the calculus may have changed, but a written letter still has impact.
It may or may not get them to do what you want- you need a lot of people to agree with you, or you need to be especially knowledgeable and persuasive, to get attention. One or two letters on crazy, throw-away subjects aren't going to do much. It also helps to know what the heck you're talking about. Don't write Congress about local government issues- don't complain about things that they have no control over- try to be constructive. Take a specific issue and look up the legislation Congress has in front of it at any given time, take a position on the legislation and explain why the people in your district generally would agree with you on the position. Be as detailed as you can. It may not produce results, but at least it's heard, and if enough people are mobilized on something, it can be heard loudly.
Of course there are exceptions. Until two months ago, my Congressman was the Speaker of the House. Not only did the opinions of people in his district mean absolutely nothing to him, as a completely political creature with the national perspective at the forefront and an ingrained 'smoky back room' mentality, but he didn't even vote on a large proportion of House legislation (traditional for Speakers). These are the kind of people who create the sort of cynicism that you seem to be exhibiting. All I can say is- don't give up! Write to people in other districts if necessary. After all, things change. Nancy Pelosi is far more MY representative now than the former Speaker ever has been, even though he's from around here and has been chosen by some of my neighbors.
Thanks for the input. To be honest, I feel the common man is completely neglected by his elected officials. I find myself suspicious of any/all politicians. I don't want to feel this way! But I keep getting proved right.
You're from IL, correct? Me, too (Bloomington). Are you guys up there impacted by the plundering of Ameren IP? That's what solidified my complete lack of confidence in our representatives. Actually, Senate President Emil Jones was quoted as saying that the house spent too much time listening to the concerns of the general public, while the senate was more logical in its decision making (paraphrased). Is that a complete distortion of his duties? Isn't he SUPPOSED to spend time listening to the concerns of the general public!?
This isn't the place to complain about my power bill. I just wanted to establish the basis for my lack of confidence in elected leaders. The only thing that keeps me going is the extreme likelihood of a Cubs World Series victory this year.
Personally I've had very good responses from my elected officials, but I also think as already stated they tend to be less active with internet petitions and sudden floods of similar (or bulk) emails.
I've been unrepresented for the past few weeks which makes me quite upset. I live in the now "vacant" Ga 10th district of the late honorable Charles Norwood. I am hoping our governor will get busy and appoint somebody.
In the mean time I adopt John Linder, but I tend to think he is less inclined to listen to somebody from another district.
Efficient drivers do it better. 1003 miles a tank personal record. 74MPG calculated. HCH1 CVT
Are there still people that believe that ANY elected official listens to his/her constituents?
Like anything else... some will listen and some won't. Some will write back and some won't.
The way I see it - if you feel strongly about an issue, but don't communicate it, can you really criticize your elected officials? If you do communicate, and they don't listen or respond... well then you're totally justified in trashing them. - And in that case you should.
I've actually had good response recently from some representatives in my state legislature. I've been targeting the state legislature because I believe the state level is more appropriate for addressing the issues I'm concerned about. One thing I've found useful is to identify the bills that have been proposed that I support, and then write to the legislators in support of those bills. I've been quite impressed with the responses I have gotten. I don't necessarily agree with all the responses. But it gets the dialogue going. And, I have a lot more respect for a representative who writes me back with their position (even if it's not exactly in line with mine) than for one who doesn't write back at all. As a result of some persistence, I've got a copy of the draft of proposed legislation for CT's energy policy. I'm providing feedback on points that are of interest to me. Will it make a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. But it definitely wouldn't if I wasn't communicating.
I guess for me my cynicism comes from Hastert, and for you it's Emil Jones. Funnily enough, I've actually met dear old Emil a couple of times at events (mostly when I was still too young to drive and didn't really have the faintest idea who he was). All I can say about him is: man, that guy can really give a party! All the IL delegates to the Convention at Chicago '96-- on a boat at Navy Pier. He was smiling at the door and said hi to everyone, especially the kids like me.
I'm not familiar with the exact issue you mention, though. And despite our close, longtime friendship (hee hee!) I'm not going to try to defend Emil Jones. I am going to say that you can't judge the entire political system and the entire political process by one or two people you don't like, or even by idiotic remarks made by the powerful, when they really ought to know better. If you find someone who isn't open to public input, then by all means, find other people to voice your input to (though you can always cc the people who are poor at listening, just in case you catch them on a good day).
There are tons of politicians who disagree with me, but who will still give my views a respectful hearing if I voice them to them. There are tons of politicians who have not formulated particular views on lots of issues, especially if they are new ones or issues that haven't been co-opted by a particular set of interest groups or a party. For instance, I wouldn't recommend that you waste much of your time writing to Congresspeople about abortion- if they haven't come down one way or the other on it by the time they're in office, then they're keeping their mouth shut strategically, and anyway, they probably have an opinion that's set in stone, because it's something that every Rep. has to consider and decide on very early in the political process.
Fuel efficiency for cars, though? This is the kind of thing you write Congress about! Solar power? Global warming? Wind energy? Research funding? It's not a litmust test- if someone hasn't considered it much or in many ways, and you get in first with a well-reasoned argument, you're as likely to have an impact in their opinion as anything else. Use your power as a voter.
I always say- People who don't vote, shouldn't complain. But there's a corollary to that. People who don't communicate with the people they have elected to represent them, have acquiesced in anything that is done on their behalf without their input.
Last edited by leahbeatle; 03-05-2007 at 11:59 AM.