I’ve been on the front lines of public policy for about 13 years. If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times from well-meaning, well-intentioned people. Ready for a gentle nudge this morning? Here goes:
>>>>>cue whining tone>>>>>
Monica, I don’t have time to call.
Monica, I don’t know what to say.
Monica, I don’t have their phone number… but but but
<<<<<un-cue whine and back to reality<<<<<
Let me ask you a couple of questions?
- Why is it important that you pick up the phone and call your lawmaker to let them know how you feel about an issue?
- Why is it important to NOT assume he/she knows how you feel about the topic of your choice?
Here is something you may not know… something I didn’t know 13 years ago… Your lawmaker is not an expert at everything.He or she has not suddenly become a “god of all knowledge” once they hit the 51% mark on election day. It is our job, our duty to educate them. My representative does not know all things about being a mother (thank goodness) so as a mom, it is my job to engage.
Let me tell you how my Rep, Curt Nisly, filters his yes/no votes. He has two.
- Principle. Does the bill align with his core principles? Does this bill counter those principles? You remember what they are. You asked him/her when they were running right? I sure asked mine. Life and liberty were among the top two. He even had a slogan. Free People; Limit Government. That was not just a slogan for him. He meant it. I knew what is core principles were when I checked the box beside his name in November. That is his first line of defense.
- His Constituents. What is he hearing from the ground in his district? What issues are important to them? What are their filters? He hears from the die-hard folks who attend his town halls on the weekends, but what about the mom who can’t make it out there at 8 am on a Saturday morning. Moms, you have a POWERFUL tool in your hand, and you don’t even know it. You have a pen and a telephone. (where have I heard that before?) Your representative needs you to use it. Yes, you may talk with his intern. Yes it can be a quick call, but they do keep a log. (I’ve personally seen it) Your rep does look at that log before he goes in to vote. If the log is blank, then he or she has to stick his finger in the air and guess how you want him (or her ) to vote. Put your pen (or crayon) to use and fill out the lawmaker’s survey. They read them. Write him/her a note on the page. Those get read first. You have this tool. USE IT! Educate your lawmaker. Why is this issue important to you? Do they vote how you want them to 100% of the time? No. But if you are silent they will NEVER know how you feel. Let’s stop the assumption game.
Do you see what is missing in this picture above? In district 22 it sure is loud and clear.
A Political Party.
My Representative cannot vote the heart of the district if he doesn’t hear from moms like me. I realize the reality is, there are some of my readers out there who have a “Party First” lawmaker. A lawmaker whose political party is more important to him/her than the people they represent.
Question: Why do you put up with it? Don’t cry me a river and say it can’t be done, we just replaced our lawmaker who did not listen to her constituents. We replaced her against all odds… the wind of the Chamber and THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of dollars. It CAN be done
Chances are though, you have a good one. You have a lawmaker you’ve elected, and is doing the best he/she can to guess how you feel. It’s an easy solution. Moms, it doesn’t matter if you are swimming in peanut butter and jelly… dads, it doesn’t matter if you have fifteen meetings scheduled that day. It takes just minutes.
Put your lawmaker’s phone number in your speed dial then USE It! They want to hear what matters to you. Here… I’ll give them to you now.
Indiana Senate: 317-232-9400
Indiana House: 317-232-9600
United States Congress: 202-224-3121
I’ll wait while you do it.
See, now you are left without excuse.
How do you know about the issues? First of all you are reading this blog, so you have a head start! Find folks who follow the issues on Facebook. (have you seen mine?) Find sites like the Indiana Religious Freedom Coalition, KCGovt Watch, Kitchen Table Activism, The American Family Institute of Indiana, your State Representative’s Facebook page. (Ours loves to engage on social media.)Contact him or her for a meeting.They love to meet with constituents! If they don’t you have a bigger problem and you should re read two paragraphs above again. Find your local Tea Party or Conservative Group. They do a great job in updating folks on the issues.
Contact me if you have an interest and want to follow. I’ll help you find the right place.
The bottom line is… YOUR VOICE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. We all love to have “roast rep” for lunch on Sundays after we roast the pastor, but in reality folks, we hold part of the responsibility to help them do their job, and it take so little of our time.
This year our organization, Kosciusko Silent NO More, restructured for this very reason. We found we were simply providing the audience with a platform to have “roast lawmaker” for an evening snack. We found we had slipped into a pattern where it was easier to complain than it was to engage.
We put a stop to that and put our folks on the front lines. They are now active in their county city meetings, state meetings and are making a difference, unlike I have EVER seen.
It’s a machine of moms and dads who said, they are finished talking and want to engage. Ask me about it sometime, I’d be happy to share the blueprint. I got a call from our mayor just this week telling me how he has appreciated the sudden community involvement and wants to improve our communication. It works.
Let me leave you with this thought.
If you DON’T engage. There is someone who WILL. They are called paid lobbyists who will do what it takes to get the ear of YOUR representative. They have all the money and free time they need to bend the mind of YOUR lawmaker. Don’t make the mistake so many do, and bury your head in the peanut butter and jelly because one day, you will look up and you will find your representative, fat and sassy, sitting in the pocket of a lobbyist or political party making decisions on YOUR family.
Take ownership and engage.