How to get your senators’ and representatives’ attention on any issue without being a wealthy donor

Seen at reddit: Protip from a former Senate intern, with thanks to /u/SomeKindOfMutant.

This is worth sharing, since most of us are not among the 1% who have access to government:

An email to your senator or representative may result in a form letter response and a phone call to the office may amount to a tally mark on an administrative assistant’s notepad. But, for any given policy concern, if you want to get their attention a letter to the editor in one of your state’s 5-10 biggest newspapers that mentions them specifically BY NAME is the way to go. If your message is directed to your representative, pick a newspaper that is popular in your district.

That is the crucial thing to know–the rest of this post is an explanation of why I know this is true.

I know this because, when I interned in the D.C. office of a senator one summer, one of the duties I shared was preparing a document that was distributed internally both online and in paper format. This document was made every day and comprised world news articles, national news, state news, and any letters to the editor in the 5-10 largest newspapers within the state that mentioned the senator by name. I was often the person who put that document on his desk, and it was the first thing he read every morning after arriving to the office.

I began to suspect that this was standard operating procedure because several other senators’ offices share the same printer in the basement of the Russell Senate Office building, and I saw other interns doing the exact same procedures that I was involved in.

Since the internship, I’ve conferred with other Senate and House employees past and present and determined that most–if not all–offices use essentially the same procedure.

Usually when I write or call or email a senator or representative, I get the expected form letter in return. Recently I was actually contacted by a staffer at Orrin Hatch’s office who had some more questions about a letter I wrote regarding the regulation of money-transfer services like Western Union who are participating in so many Nigerian scams. It was gratifying.

That said, this is an excellent tip.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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