A friend posted a letter he wrote to his representative and he wanted us to read and discuss it. The response below is a suggestion from my other friend Stu, where he explains how to best write to your Congressman. Hopefully, Stu’s suggestions will help you when contacting your own representatives.
I have alot of experience with this. Your substance is good, but this type of email has too many points for Congressmen to work with easily. I suggest you utilize the following regimen to gain maximum impact:
(1) Always use the correct honorific, like Dear Senator Smith or Dear Representative Jones.
(2) Always specify ONE specific bill both by name (“National Water Safety Act”) and code (like S. 510 or H. 725). Don’t address more than one bill in any single email.
(3) If your Congressman is on the fence, be firm but polite. If your Congressman is strongly against your position (and especially if the Congressman is leading the charge against your position with his colleagues), be firm and mildly threatening (“vote my way or you won’t get reelected”).
(4) Open and close with a clear statement of your requested action, again, being sure to mention the bill’s name and code number.
(5) Limit your arguments for or against the bill to 3-4 paragraphs. A printout of your email should fit on a single page.
(6) Be certain to mention ALL things you want your Congressman to do (vote for or against a bill, vote for or against cloture in a filibuster, continue/stop trying to influence colleagues in the manner he is currently doing, etc.).
(7) Use a patriotic closing, like “In liberty” or “An American for freedom,” instead of “Sincerely” or “Your’s truly.”
(8) Make maximum possible use of references to similar bills that help your position. For example, if a few similar bills stalled in Congress due to citizen letters, petitions, or absence of Congressional support, be sure to emphasize this. Let your Congressman know he is taking a stand that the people or other Congressmen, as applicable, are against.
(9) Always provide your name, address, phone number, and email address.
Use your Congressman’s webmail form when there is sufficient time for your email to be read before he must take action. Otherwise, call the capital switchboard or the Congressman’s DC office number.
- Tell the staffer your name and address, what your request is in the briefest form possible (e.g., “please vote against S. 510, the Safe Water Act”), and provide 1-2 short but major reasons.
- Try to limit the call to two minutes maximum. You don’t need to speak fast; the trick is to speak efficiently so you don’t need to use too many words. Think of the staffer as communicating your message to the legislator on a 3 X 5 index card.