What Do We Do When Congress Won’t Pick Up Our Calls?
Like many other Americans I find myself wanting to be more active in our government after this very long election that was filled with more hate and divide than usual. I have always been interested in the government and as much as people like to claim they “do not like politics,” the government obviously has an impact on our day-to-day decisions. Whether its the meat we choose for our bodega sandwich or how much money we pay for our contraceptives, the government can easily influence everything we do and choose. And since the government affects our everyday lives, it makes sense that us citizens should want to have a voice in the government that essentially controls what we can and cannot do.
I have been to a handful of protests ranging from Black Lives Matter (none were violent FYI) to marching for LGBT rights. I would like to say that protesting is effective because it does bring awareness to these issues, however since we have a stubborn 70-year-old celebrity running our country I’m not sure that he would even pay attention or care about these protests. And I thank all the protestors worldwide for marching in last month’s Women’s March but we need to turn that energy into action.
Aside from protesting I feel the need to directly call Senators and others in our government so they can hear first hand (or second hand) the issues that are important to me and why. Mailed letters can be easily ignored and with protesting you are lumped into a large crowd. Calling and in person visits seem to make the most sense in having our voice reach elected officials. Many Americans do not understand that they can make a difference by simply picking up the phone and making sure the Senator and his or her office understands their opinions.
With this in mind I decided to pick up the phone and call Speaker of the House Paul Ryan only to have the call go to a voicemail inbox that was not accepting any messages. Paul Ryan blocked petitions to his office from Planned Parenthood and even sent 6 security guards to stop him from witnessing the 87,000 signatures of citizens who do not want to defund Planned Parenthood. Paul Ryan’s actions let us know that he does not care about the American citizens’ interests and will refuse to listen by phone or even in person. I then saw a link from the ACLU urging people to call North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and tell him to keep water protectors safe from police abuse and remove the road blockade. I went ahead and called to receive a similar message that the governor was not accepting calls or messages. We elect those in office only to have them ignore the voice of the American people who ask to have a say in how the country is operating. If you do not want to hear from the people do not run for office. Seems pretty simple to me. What do we do when our protests fall on deaf ears and our phone calls are ignored? How do we reach out peacefully and effectively? Just asking for a friend.
It also seams to me that calls are more effective if you have the opposite party running your state or town. I live in district number 5 in New Jersey so my representative is Democrat Josh Gottheimer who recently beat out incumbent Republican Scott Garrett. New Jersey’s senators are also Democrats (Cory Booker and Bob Menendez). Calls seem pointless when your representative and senators already agree on the same issue as you. If I called other members of Congress they could easily ignore me since they do not represent the district I live in. If the senators and representative already stand for what you believe in how do you get your calls heard on a national level without being blocked or ignored?
It seems like we are running out of options when Congress decides to ignore our voices on all platforms. Besides blocked calls, ignored visits, useless tweets, and neglected protests, how to we get Congress to listen to their citizens? Again, just asking for a friend ;)