From The New Yorker: Does Calling Congress Work?

December 20, 2017

NY er

A March 2017 article in The New Yorker Magazine looks at the data and stories behind contacting Congress. Does it work? Spoiler alert: yes, it does. The article cites 2015 Congressional Management Foundation survey of almost 200 senior Congressional staffers that found that when it comes to influencing a lawmaker’s opinion, personalized e-mails and editorials in local newspapers are even more effective than calls.

From the article:

"Of all the liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the most underrated by far is the one that gives us the right to complain to our elected officials. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly: all of these are far more widely known, legislated, and litigated than the right to—as the founders rather tactfully put it—'petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'

"There are a great many ways to petition the government, including with actual petitions, but, short of showing up in person, the one reputed to be the most effective is picking up the phone and calling your congressional representatives. In the weeks following the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump, so many people started doing so that, in short order, voice mail filled up and landlines began blurting out busy signals. Pretty soon, even e-mails were bouncing back..."

It goes on to examine who reads emails to Congress, and what to expect.

  • Read the full post (free) here.