When To Call
- When a vote is imminent
- How to tell: either from your “Call to Action” newsletters / newsfeeds, or by following bills on house.gov or senate.gov
- Current event demands immediate response
- You don’t have time to write a letter or email, but you just read your reliable and diversified news stream and have something to say!
What To Say
You don’t really need a “script”. If you are nervous or don’t know what to say, keep it short and simple:
“My name is Daniella Packer from Rochelle Park, NJ, zip code 07662. I am opposed to XYZ bill / nominee. Please ask the Senator / Representative to vote no”
“My name is Lewis Carter from Bluffton, SC, zip code 29910. I am in favor of XYZ bill / nominee. Please ask the Senator / Representative to vote yes”
There you go. That’s all you need to say. You do not need to rattle of some long, drawn out script that you didn’t write. Congressional staffers have commented “We don’t need 500 of the same phone calls” so make your voice heard by getting on the tally and keeping it short and sweet.
You are, of course, welcome to expand your call with your own personal story about how the bill will affect you or your family.
Who To Call
Tip: We have learned that only the DC offices have access to the constituent database where our calls are tallied and tracked. For this reason we suggest that you call the Washington DC office for your Senators and Representative:
What To Expect
Here are some tips from Democracy Happens and the “Shy Person’s Guide to Calling Representatives” from Action Friday:
- Think of it Like Ripping Off a Bandaid: It’s That FAST
- It’s likely you will get a busy signal. Not that scary, right? Call back later!
- It Might Be Voicemail: Leave a short message (see “what to say” above)
- If a person answers, it will be a staff member
- It is highly unlikely your Member of Congress is going to answer the phone themselves
- Once you get through, the actual call will take only about a minute or two. Even if you call, armed with a long drawn out script from MoveOn or Indivisible, you’ll likely get cut off anyway.
- It’s NOT A Debate
- You are calling to put yourself on a tally that will be passed along to your representative.
- You don’t have to convince anyone and no one will try to argue with you.
- The staff in the office of your Member of Congress are already trained to take your call in a professional and efficient manner, no matter how awkward you feel or how many times you stumble.
- How Staffers Will Respond
- Most of the time they will write down what you said and tell you they will pass on your concern to your Member of Congress. Congrats – if they do this then you are done!
- They might ask you for clarification, but that is all. Staffers will not argue with you, nor will they make any putt-downs or other statements about your concern. Simply repeat what you said before. If you stumble, it’s ok!
- They might read a prepared statement in response.
- They might even say that your Member of Congress is not going to take action on the issue you brought up.
- If Necessary, Reiterate Your Request
- If they read a statement or say the representative will not take action, don’t get flustered. Just say, Once again, I’m calling on the [Member of Congress] to _____.
- Thank the Staffer and Hang Up
The more you call, the more you know what to expect. You may even get to know some staffers. You might never like calling but we promise it gets less intimidating. This is how Democracy Happens!
Excellent! You get a Democracy Happens Thumbs Up!
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