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If you’re feeling lost, if you’re feeling alone, if you’re feeling like life as you know it is over, it’s not just you. I’ve been in a funk for over a week now. When I get that way, only two things get me out of it: taking a nap, or taking action. Today I took some action, and as soon as this post goes up, I’m taking the nap.
A few days ago I came across this series of tweets by former Congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth, and then today while looking for the tweets again, I found this. In the tweets and the post Ms. Ellsworth explains why calling your representatives is better than sending emails or tagging them on social media.
Now, here’s a partial list of things I would rather do than be on the phone with anybody:
- Work out
- Go on a school field trip
- Do my taxes
- Sit in traffic
- Eat a raisin-beet-mushroom-tofu casserole (my four least-favorite foods)
But I just made five phone calls. It took about ten minutes, including looking up all of the numbers, and didn’t rise to the level of torture. I wrote out scripts for the phone calls, which made me less nervous and tongue-tied.
I chose to talk about the worst thing President-elect Trump [shudder] has done so far since being elected: appointing Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist. Stephen Bannon has bragged that his website is a platform for the alt-right, which is apparently what racists want to be called nowadays. This man has no business in the White House.Feeling helpless? Take some action against Stephen Bannon as Trump's chief strategist. Click To Tweet
When I was calling my own elected officials, all of whom are Democrats, I used this script:
Hi there, I’d like to speak with someone about President-elect Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist.
As one of your constituents, I’m asking you to be extremely vocal in your opposition to President-elect Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as one of his closest advisors in the White House. His appointment is an outrage. As I’m sure Senator/Representative _________________ is aware, Stephen Bannon has bragged that his website is a platform for the group of racists known as the “alt-right.” Allowing a person with that kind of very recent history and association to have an official position in the White House is dangerous, and I call on your boss, ___________________, to denounce this appointment and put pressure on President-elect Trump to rescind it. Thank you.
Edited to add: I just found this list of all of the Representatives who signed a letter asking for Trump to rescind Bannon’s appointment. You can check and see if your rep is there.
When I called the McConnell and Ryan’s offices, I used this script, which could also be used if your own elected officials aren’t anti-Trump. Just add in the part about you being one of their constituents.
Hello, I’d like to speak with someone about President-elect Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist.
I’m calling to say that President-elect Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon as one of his closest advisors in the White House is an outrage. Stephen Bannon has bragged that his website is a platform for the group of racists known as the “alt-right.” Allowing a person with that kind of very recent history and association to have an official position in the White House is dangerous, and I call on your boss, __________________, to denounce this appointment and put pressure on President-elect Trump to rescind it. Thank you.
Call Your Senators
First I called my two senators. You can find your senators’ info here. However, on Ms. Ellsworth’s advice, I did not call the numbers listed on the site, since those were for the D.C. offices. In each case I clicked on the website for the senator, which led me to a contact form. Very quickly on each of my senators’ websites I was able to find information for local offices. I called both of their NYC offices.
For one of my senators, Chuck Schumer, I just got a recording that everyone was busy and I should call back. And even though there’s a drawing of a phone on his site that says “Leave a Comment” it just led to another contact form. So I’ll be trying his number again until I get through.
I reached someone in Senator Gillibrand’s office after just a few tries, read my sentences, and was thanked by the nice staffer who answered the phone. In retrospect I probably should have requested that the staffer log my call to make sure, because he didn’t ask me for any info. Next time.
Call Your Congressperson
When I called my congressperson, Hakeem Jeffries, I got to a real person quickly (you can find your representative’s info here – just remember to click through to your Congressperson’s website and find the local office). After my little speech the staffer took down my name, phone number, and email address, and said that my call was being logged so that my congressperson could review what I had to say later.
Call the Congressional Leaders
Next, I called the leaders of the House and Senate. Even though Ms. Ellsworth said to focus on my local reps, I had time for two more phone calls, and I want the leadership offices to be swamped.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district office number is (262) 637-0510. If you want to speed things up, you can press 6 to leave an opinion for him. Just hold the phone away from your ear a little, because a very loud recording of his voice comes on.
Senate Majority Leader (and noted Turtle-American) Mitch McConnell was next, (270) 781-1673. The recording at his district office asked for my name, address, and phone number, all of which I gave. That probably means they won’t log my call, since I’m not local, but whatever, at least I’ll take up a minute of their day figuring that out.
In The Long Term
Longer term, someone has come up with this list of issues and scripts for weekly calls. I don’t really understand the schedule, but the scripts are great. I plan on setting aside a little time each week to make those calls.
Once you’re finished with your calls, if you see your Senator or Congressperson address the issue you called about, call back and thank them! Let them know that you’re watching, and that you’re appreciative.
And if you don’t see them taking any action? Well, call again. And again. Ask questions. Ask if they’ve been doing anything behind the scenes. Ask what the plan is.
I know making a few phone calls doesn’t seem like much. But if enough of us do it, our voices will be heard.
And now, because this week has been really fucking long and it’s only Wednesday, here’s a video I found while looking for the turtle one. God I miss Jon Stewart.