Earlier this year, we suggested 25 ways to spend your summer break.
If one of your summer goals is to enact change, then today’s post is for you.
Today, we will discuss why you should call your political representative, when is the best time to do so, how to structure the conversation, and what to do after you’ve hung up the ringer.
Before we discuss how to call your representative, it’s worth talking in a little more detail about why you should call.
Calling your political representative is an excellent way to exercise your democratic rights, hold elected officials accountable for their policies, and learn more about the political process.
Calling your political representatives is also surprisingly easy to do, and if you do so at the right time, you can play a significant role in the decisions that elected officials make.
It’s easy to feel like your voice doesn’t matter and that your call will be disregarded. However, city councilors, mayors, state legislators, governors, and congresspeople keep track of the messages that they receive from their constituents (that is, the people they represent).
When to call
If you call at a time when many people are deeply concerned about an issue, then there’s a good chance you won’t be the only one doing so.
Politicians care about being reelected, and if many people urge them to do more about an issue, call on them to change course, or even offer them messages of support when they take a stand against another level of government, then they will certainly take those calls into consideration.
Calling is especially effective in the lead-up to an election, when leaders are particularly worried about losing prospective voters.
How to call
Now let’s discuss the mechanics of making the call.
For many people under the age of 30, it’s unusual to call someone directly—we’re more used to texting and sending emails. However, putting in the extra effort to make a call shows your commitment to the issue at hand. Fortunately there are many good strategies to get around your telephone jitters.
For instance, you can write out a script in advance, or look for templates online, if applicable.
You can also call the constituency office after hours and leave a voicemail—in fact, I would recommend it. Leaving a voicemail allows you to deliver longer prepared remarks without feeling any pressure to hurry.
Finally, remember that it’s unlikely that you’ll talk directly to your representative; it’s more likely that you’ll hear from an administrative worker in the office.
After you call
If you’ve made your call but still want to give more time to your cause, you may want to find a volunteer organization that uses phonebanking. Despite the name, this process doesn’t have anything to do with banks.
Phonebanking simply describes a tactic that involves calling other constituents, on behalf of your organization, and asking them to phone their representatives, too.
You’ll usually have a script, and sometimes you can even patch callers through to their representatives directly. It’s a great tactic because it shows leaders that their constituents are organized and committed to their cause.
Of course, most political victories aren’t won with phone calls alone. But, at key moments, and in concert with other forms of activism and organizing, calling your political representative can absolutely make a difference.