Political activism from the front seat

I was in a pretty anxious and upset place a year ago, all because of politics. I love this country and my fellow citizens, and I’m still very concerned about the State of the Union. But I’ve found that Doing Something helps ease that anxiety a skosh.

I haven’t been marching or running for office or anything like that. Instead, I’ve voted in every possible election (that’s not new; I love voting) and I’ve been making sure my elected representatives know exactly how I feel about the issues of the day. Now, I know that my calls aren’t doing a darn thing to change my their minds, because they’re all diametrically opposed to my beliefs (and also I don’t have piles of cash with which to lobby them, which is probably the more realistic reason they don’t care about my opinion).

The first time I placed a call to one of my elected representatives, I cried. I was so nervous, even though I had typed up exactly what I wanted to say. I muddled through it, though, and then I tried it again. And again and again and again, ad infinitum and beyond. It got a little easier every time. While I’m still typing and printing exactly what I want to say every week, I haven’t cried to a congressional staffer since that very first call.

So how do I know exactly what I want to say? Some more action-oriented people than myself have made that very easy:

  • I subscribed to Jen Hofmann’s Weekly Action Checklist last November. She compiles and emails a list actionable items every week. There’s generally a self-care aspect to some of the items, which is nice, and there are frequently suggestions for thanking people who are doing good work in the world. She also includes scripts to use if you’d like to call your congressional representatives.
  • Indivisible has a ton of resources available on just about every topic. Their call scripts are more in-depth than any others I’ve seen. They include suggestions for how to respond if the person on the other end of the line says anything other than “Thanks I’ll pass that along.” In my experience, that’s all they ever say. But it’s nice and optimistic of Indivisible to be prepared for discourse.
  • Wall-Of-Us is the easily digestible of the resources I use. They publish just four action items every week. That makes it seem really manageable.
  • I always edit the script a bit to put it in my own voice, but these three resources have consistently provided me with a good starting place.

    I placed that first call from my bedroom, and I’ve since found that I’m much less nervous about calling if I do it from my car. I’m sure there’s a psychological reason for that, but I don’t know what it is. So I print my action list early in the week and then stick it above the visor in the car, and I make one phone call every day. It’s usually while I’m sitting in the carpool line waiting to pick Pete up from school, but some days it’s from the parking lot of a doctors office or the soccer field. It’s always while I’m parked and waiting for a kid, because I can’t read and drive at the same time.

    A human person is still answering the phones at Congressman Mark Meadows’s office, but I haven’t spoken with anyone at the offices of either Sen. Richard Burr or Sen. Thom Tillis recently because they both have answering machines to field that sort of thing now. Tillis set his own message, but Burr had someone else do it and the way she says “or if you have a comment about the executive office” makes me laugh every time. It sounds like she’s definitely tired of hearing comments about the executive office.

    Anyway, I called them all today to let them know I’m not in favor of the tax bill they’re trying to pass. Here’s a script from Indivisible if you’d like to do that, too:

    “Hello! My name is [___] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling to let [Congressman / Senator __] know that I strongly oppose the tax bill. This tax bill is a scam that will give massive cuts to the wealthy, paid for by raising taxes on tens of millions of middle-class families.”

    • I’ve never made a political phone call, but I’d be super nervous if I did, so having it written down sounds like a great idea.