You can change the world right at your breakfast table. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to make a difference. Ready to learn how? Get a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and lets to some prep work!
Your Cell phone: Every activist’s key tool in the tool box. Ready? Get your cell phones out right now.
Type in these three numbers.
- Indiana Senate 317-232-9400
- Indiana House 317-232-9600.
- United States Capitol Switchboard. 202-224-3121
Now you will have them nice and handy when I email you on the beach. You’ll be able to make that call. Easy peasy 🙂
KNOW who your legislators are. With a couple of exceptions it is best to only call your own legislator. Don’t know? Simply go to this link to find your Indiana legislator. http://district.iga.in.gov/DistrictLookup/ (note, your Indiana legislators are different than your national ones as well as different issues) Note this in your phone.
COMMUNICATION: It is important to know “how” to communicate via phone call or email with your lawmaker. Here are some tips.
- Be specific. Limit topics. Mention bill number and title.
- Use Good Information: Double check your facts, Use accurate information only, not rumors or hearsay. Quote experts, but don’t misquote. You will not be taken seriously if you misquote.
- Be Polite: You can be firm, passionate, but courteous. Sarcasm will hurt your cause. How will this affect YOU? Are you a mom? A teacher? Student?
- Be Brief: Lawmakers are busy. You have about 10 seconds to capture their attention. Lengthy letters will be skimmed and overlooked.
- Act Quickly: Legislation moves at the speed of lightning. A day in the legislative session equals about a month of real time. The best time to act is when you first hear about it. If you wait, it may be too late.
- Limit “Christian’ese” or lingo: Don’t preach or use religious jargon. They will tune you out.
- Don’t be intimidated: Your lawmaker puts his/her pants on the same way you do. One leg at a time. You elected him/her. You are their boss. You know more about your topic sometimes than he/she does. It is your job to educate him/her.
- Thank them: Follow up with a thank you. Thank them when they vote the way you like them to. They hear the negative at every turn. Make sure they hear when you are happy with them.
- You are not their pen pal or spammer: If you write to them too much, they will block you and ignore you. Use your calls and emails wisely and productively.
PUBLIC COMMUNICATION/PERSUASION: There is no better activism tool than public persuasion. This is often ignored and is quite possibly the most effective tool in our tool kit. The most popular ways to do this are Facebook, Twitter, letters to the editor, and town hall meetings. Sometimes it is easy for them to ignore letters and phone calls. It is a bit more difficult for them to ignore the public being made aware of their voting record. The left has used social media for a while. The right seems to skip this step.
- Connect with your friends on Facebook. Share posts with them. Make sure your posters are reliable. Educate your social media friends and family. Make your activism posts public so they can also share your posts. Be accurate, truthful and use the tools in Kitchen Table Activism #3. (tip: when I post private things that I don’t want shared, I use a custom list that is not public, this way there is no share button)
- Join Twitter and find your lawmaker. They all have them. This can be used to alert your followers, share bill information, speak directly and publicly to your lawmaker, and also let folks know how they voted. Knowledge is POWER.
- Write letters to the Editor. Most newspapers have a 250 word limit. Be brief, have your letter proof read, Finish your letter with an action plan and a solution. So many like to complain. So few give an action. It always helps to give people the numbers to call. They are more likely to call if you put the action steps in place. When you finish, give your name, address and phone number. The paper will not print your information without it.
- Remember… Legislative staff members are constantly monitoring public input. Even if your lawmaker does not see it. Someone does.
- Request your lawmaker to also use social media. This will help them in the long run so you can get their information out to the public as fast as lightning. Ask them to post things from the floor of the house/senate. Their communication with their constituents is just as important as ours to them.
- Ready to do your own research and find out what is being debated on the Indiana House and Senate floor? Simply follow this link.http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2013&session=1&request=getSubjectList
- Find your US House members on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cspan/u-s-representatives
- Find your US Senate Members on Twitter: https://twitter.com/govaffairsinst/the-113th-congress-senate/members