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So I want to talk to my representative...

CalicaCalica Registered User regular
My congressional representative is a Republican whose newsletters read like a caricature of Republican talking points: all nonsensical positions and claims that can easily be refuted by a few minutes of Googling reputable sources. Everything Obama does is bad, yadda yadda guns deficits job creators. This guy has an upcoming series of office hours near where I live. I think I would like to show up and tell him, politely and respectfully, that I as his constituent disagree with him on basically everything, and by the way so do all these reputable sources that I brought with me with the relevant points highlighted.

How should I approach this conversation? Is this even a good idea, or should I just hold my peace and vote Democrat?

I'm not looking to pick a fight here; I just think that since he is my elected representative, as a person being represented I have a right to air concerns, especially when he specifically comes looking for them. Or am I just being hopelessly naive?


  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    You are being hopelessly naive.

    That said, you absolutely have a right to talk to your Congressman and solicit the chance to give him your input, ideas, and criticism of his work.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    Those newsletters don't have anything to do with facts. It is about rileing up the base. You probably won't be able to talk to him at all. These office hours.are generally for getting them to help with administrative issues, like my brother hasn't been getting his disability checks or something. If they do talk to you it won't be for long.

    If you have nothing else to do then, why not though.

    and I wonder about my neighbors even though I don't have them
    but they're listening to every word I say
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Seems like disagreeing with him on everything would be a waste of time, why not pick one topic that means a lot to you?

    But as JebusUD says, these office hours are generally for concrete concerns. For instance someone might need help getting a relative to immigrate or something. Sounds like you are looking for a debate. That's more likely near an election.

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    Going to his office hours to argue with him about issues on which you disagree is, frankly, kind of a waste of time for both of you.

  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    Seems like disagreeing with him on everything would be a waste of time, why not pick one topic that means a lot to you?

    This is pure wisdom.

  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    I agree, you can try to debate him in his office but that will resort in a short conversation him politely nodding to you and then him having you shooed off. Ultimately wasting both of your time,

    And anyways you will just end up talking to an aid or an assistant who will act as a gate keeper, congressional staff handle this stuff, it is what they are paid for.

    Honestly the best use of your representatives office is to cut through government burrocracy. Your social security checks stop because the government thinks your dead, talk to your rep. You need someone to talk to the commissioner of insurance on your behalf and get some work done on an insurance claim? talk to your rep. You can't get a response from a government agency about an entitlement (this one is big)? talk to your rep. You want to have a debate with someone because you disagree with them and think they are silly? You can get drunk in a bar and do that.

    And for prosparity sake. If you get an appointment with congressional staff (and please get an appointment don't just drop by) don't be a jerk and don't act like you only wanted to talk to the congressman. As a government worker I can tell you that catching a call from "The office of <congressman>" will get you answers. We don't get many of them, but they do come up, and we react promptly.

  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Thanks for the responses. After reading them I've decided to just write a letter.

    Edit: And also to take into account what @CelestialBadger said, thanks!

    Calica on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    You can probably get in to talk to staff (and maybe the congressman eventually) about something if you have a specific, district-related issue even if it's obvious you're an ideological opponent and so on, but even state reps don't take these "I just think you're wrong about everything" kinds of visits. And trust me, they get lots of requests.

    I would try to be focused in your letter too; all incoming mail gets tracked, but correspondence on a specific issue is a lot more likely to get somebody's attention (or at least, wind up in a tracking column somebody cares about) than something very general.

    it was the smallest on the list but
    Pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Calica wrote: »
    How should I approach this conversation? Is this even a good idea, or should I just hold my peace and vote Democrat?

    I have the following philosophy when it comes to talking to politicians:

    Every four years, some asshole comes along and tells me that after consulting with his family and pastor and after a great deal of prayer, he's realized that God is telling him that He wants said asshole to be the next President of the United States. My response is always that God should probably have taken a high school civics class: if He wanted this man to be President, he shouldn't have told the politician, he should have told all the rest of us who get to vote for or against the guy.

    As Darkewolfe says, you absolutely have the right to speak with your representative and tell him what you think. If you actually want to accomplish something, though, you don't need to work on the politician; you need to work on all the people who get to vote for or against him. Don't simply hold your peace and vote for the opposition party; start getting involved in an effort to present the voters in your district with a viable alternative. Nothing sharpens a politician's focus on political moderation like a competitive election in my experience. Even Michelle Bachmann's toned herself down to only one bat-shit crazy opinion per month after the last cycle.

    SammyF on
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited April 2013
    Calica wrote: »
    Thanks for the responses. After reading them I've decided to just write a letter.

    Edit: And also to take into account what @CelestialBadger said, thanks!

    By all means write the letter - email is free and there's even websites that will do most of the work for you so you just type the body.

    It won't accomplish shit, but do it anyway. You'll just get a rubber stamped form letter back that was probably chosen only based on a few keywords and then they'll throw your letter out and proceed to give no shits. But they still see how many of those letters are getting sent on particular topics. Sufficient volumes of letters have worn down representatives in the past, sort of a statistical siege.

    While you're at it, like SammyF said, get involved in the other party. Even if it's just stuffing envelopes or selling bumper stickers there's always work to do in an election year, and even if you're in the most stranglehold of a red/blue state, the hold is rarely as strong the farther you get from the President. Nearly any congressman is vulnerable to a sufficiently motivated opposition, the problem is usually getting that opposition motivated.

    If the newsletters are truly beyond the pale (keep in mind the pale is pretty far out there the last few years), you could email it to somebody like Rachel Maddow. She's gotten a lot of shows just out of crazy congressional mailers.

    Hevach on
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