Talking with Electeds

Over the years I’ve noticed that there are a number of strategies that work better for communicating issues and concerns to elected officials (I use them when I talk to people “up the chain”, like our local Assembly member or Senator). Here they are:

  • Phone calls work better than emails, which work better than physical letters. This is particularly true if you want to understand the elected official’s views or thinking.
  • The best approach, bar none, is sitting down with an elected official in person. The fact that you care enough to sacrifice your time speaks volumes. In fact, even just requesting a meeting underlines how important the subject is to you.
  • However angry or upset or motivated you are about an issue, it’s rarely a good approach to project that emotional intensity. There’s always time to yell later, if that seems advisable.
  • However, if yelling seems advisable, a far more effective approach is to take that energy and go out and find a group of like-minded individuals who share your concern, and get them to interact with the elected officials. One angry person can be written off as a kook. A crowd of intensely engaged people is a political force.
  • People, including elected officials, rarely shy away from doing the obvious. If the “obvious solution” isn’t being pursued, it’s generally because something is keeping them from doing it. Figure out what the something is and you’ll be much better positioned to effect change.