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Ever written to a senator or congressperson?

Old 11-18-05, 07:32 PM
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Ever written to a senator or congressperson?

Just curious? I'm thinking about writing to mine re: possible GI Bill changes but I've never done it before. Is it generally alright to write to both senators and all the congresspeople in the state or would you just send to the ones covering your district?

I figure hard copy is probably preferred over email (all the moreso since it'd be coming from Iraq).

thanks.
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Old 11-18-05, 07:38 PM
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Hardcopy generally gets more respect.
I've written to my congresscritter [the one I voted against/didn't vote for] and asked him to support a certain bill. He basically responded saying 'no' even though his facts/'reasoning' were wrong. But he did respond, via snail mail.
You'll probably get a better response if you're in his district, but if you have the postage to spare, send it to everybody.
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Old 11-18-05, 07:43 PM
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Cool. Snail mail from here is free. I just drop it in the box on the way to the mess hall.
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Old 11-18-05, 07:45 PM
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Hardly free, I'm paying for that postage!

kidding--it's the least I can do : )

Definitely appreciate your service.
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Old 11-18-05, 09:15 PM
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Doesnt do much good as I see it. The morons that matter usually represent other states and they wont even respond. You might get a response, if they agree with you.
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Old 11-19-05, 08:49 AM
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Yes, and it does no good. One, you're lucky if you get a response. Two, if you do get a response, you may not even get the right canned topical response.

I've written letters to my state rep, Congressman, and US Senators before. Surprisingly, the state rep and Congressman never responded while the Senators did (although one of them sent a reply letter on the wrong topic). I would have thought it would be the opposite way around.
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Old 11-19-05, 08:59 AM
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I always get responses. I don't write quite as often as I used to.
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Old 11-21-05, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Yes, and it does no good. One, you're lucky if you get a response. Two, if you do get a response, you may not even get the right canned topical response.
Exactly. I've written long detailed arguments. The response while on the opposite side of the fence is so "canned" that obviously the staffer who read it only read it far enough to decide what pile to throw it in, and that pile led to my getting a particular response form letter. I only piss into the wind a limited number of times before I say "why do I bother."

Keep it short. It doesn't matter if your argument is sound or not, they just throw them in pro/con piles.
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Old 11-21-05, 07:36 AM
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From reading the many posts that Red Dog & OldDude have made over the years on this forum, I can fully understand why they didn't receive a response.
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Old 11-21-05, 07:52 AM
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I write or call someone in Washington pretty much weekly.
Definition of insanity I suppose

I don't expect a response really. I think it's just more for my sake. I call when my rep does something good too, just so they know they have at least one of their constituents support!
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Old 11-21-05, 07:58 AM
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Are you'll serious?

If you ask questions of senators & congressmen, you don't get a response?

I don't understand that. I've been writing congressmen & senators for years, and I also got a response - when I inquired about something.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:37 AM
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I get responses when I write them, but like the others have said they are "canned" responses.
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Old 11-21-05, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mosquitobite
I get responses when I write them, but like the others have said they are "canned" responses.
I see. It's just a response you don't want to hear.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Are you'll serious?

If you ask questions of senators & congressmen, you don't get a response?

I don't understand that. I've been writing congressmen & senators for years, and I also got a response - when I inquired about something.

No response more often than not.

I've written a couple letters to my state rep on a couple issues (last one was a proposed smoking ban) - no responses.

I've written a few letters to Congressman Moron - no repsonses.

I've wrote 1 letter each to Senator Warner and Allen - on the Broadcast Decency Act. I got a canned response on the wrong topic back from Warner. I got a canned response from Allen back boasting how he is proud to be sponsor of the Act.
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Old 11-21-05, 09:45 AM
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I write to my Senators, Representatives, and Governor every now and then. Usually I just write to my district, but if you've got the time or patience to write to all of them in your state, it couldn't hurt. I've also written to media personalities (Hannity & Colmes; Greg Palkot; O'Reilly; a few more), to FOX News, and once to Australian PM Howard.

The only one I never got a response from was Bill O'Reilly. PM Howard did not respond personally, but I got a very nice letter back from one of his cabinet members, and it did in fact refer to a specific item in my letter to the PM, so at least I know he read it.


The best tips I can offer you are to use an easy to read font, use the proper letter format, and most importantly, try to keep it to a single page -- long letters get a paragraph or two skimmed and then are tossed aside. It goes without saying that spellcheck is your friend.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:31 AM
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As someone who used to work in a Congressional office answering the letters you folks wrote, let me chime in here.

One, usually if you write in you'll get a canned response. The guy I worked for was from a small state and we got in almost a hundred thousand letters a year. It's impossible to answer every one of them with a personalized letter. However, it's not like it's really necessary to personalize most letters. If someone is writing in telling the Senator to oppose drilling in ANWR, then you send them a form letter back explaining why the Senator believes drilling in ANWR is good. It's not like you need to write a whole new letter to answer a letter that's basically the same as the previous 20,000 letters on ANWR. Most letters that come into an office deal with basically the same topics, depending on what's in the news. If gas prices are high, people will write in bitching about gas prices. If there is a Supreme Court nomination, people will write in about that. The most efficient way to answer these letters (which are all basically the same) is with a canned letter.

Two, if you want a personalized letter back, write a thoughtful letter to the official. You might actually get one that's had some thought put into it. I remember well writing detailed letters refuting points that constituents had made.

Three, if you want a personal letter, be prepared to wait a while. Most of the time the offices want everything written by them to be cleared by high ranking staff or even the Member of Congress himself. Since most letter writers are low ranking staff they must get any new letter approved by this high ranking staff. Since the high ranking staff is busy on more important matters it may take a while before they get down to relatively unimportant chore of proofreading correspondence. I remember we had some cases where letters were five or six months old before they got sent out. Of course, some offices are better than others in the matter of timliness of correspondence.

Three, don't expect your letters to make that much difference. On most issues, an elected official has his/her mind made up about an issue. Except for a few moderates, most Senators, for instance, were completely decided on the issue of drilling in ANWR. My boss could have gotten a million letters opposed to drilling in ANWR and he woudl have voted in favor of it. You aren't going to change the mind of someone who has his/her mind made up on issues of principle. You may, however, influence them on smaller issues. Occasionally we had people write in asking us to cosponsor a certain bill. We'd look at the bill and decide that it was a good idea, so we did. Similarly, we once had a huge letter writing campaign from what seemed like every railroad worker in the state asking us to be in favor of a railroad retirement bill. Initially we were hesitant because it frankly was a crappy bill. Due to the flood of letters, however, we eventually did so.

All in all, I say don't waste your time writing to Capitol Hill. If you have a truly pressing need, simply call the office and ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant (LA) in charge of your issue. That's the person you want to connect with. If you can get the ear of him or her, you'll be in much better shape than by simply writing a letter. Of course, if you harass the LA too much, you won't get anything since that person will come to hate the sound of your voice. Reserve this tactic for important issues, not simply because you want to bitch about Samuel Alito.
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Old 11-21-05, 10:38 AM
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I've always gotten a response when I've written my two Senators and my house member.

I wonder if people aren't getting responses because what they think is a well written letter is really just a mindless rant?

As for writing members of House who are not my representative, I don't bother because most of them probably won't reply since I'm not their constituent.
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