#ResistTrump today by learning how to get the attention of your elected representatives

Calling is best, but personalized emails work too

Shortly after the election, a former Congressional staffer named Emily Ellsworth took to Twitter to offer some advice to those ordinary citizens who would like to let Congress know what they are thinking between elections.

Some of her key points:

Still, she adds, calling isn’t the only way to get their attention.


She collected the whole series of Tweets in a Storify here.

After getting a barrage of questions from would-be congress-contacters, she wrote a sort of  follow-up e-booklet for those wanting more detailed advice.

In the booklet, she suggests doing some basic research about the politicians you plan to contact before contacting them – their stances on issues, the committees they are on, what exactly their duties are. (Don’t lobby your congressperson about presidential appointees, for example; the Senate handles that.)

She also goes into more detail on the email issue. Form letters are basically useless; they just get sorted and filed with the other form letters, and get a form letter in return. But you can get the attention of staffers with personalized emails, telling your story (concisely) and pointing out why the issue matters to you personally. If your story is compelling, the staffers will pass your email on to the congressperson or senator they work for. Politicians love anecdotes.

Above all, be polite, even when you’re being critical.

22 replies on “#ResistTrump today by learning how to get the attention of your elected representatives”

I’m one of Paul Ryan’s actual district constituants and I’m fairly certain no one actually works at his district office. I could recite his voicemail message for you though.

Hey Lortnocratrat, have you tried calling the local media about this? It would be a good story for one of their reporters to call the office over and over again while never being able to talk to a human.

A couple of times, I called my Congresscritter’s office to thank him when he’d done something RIGHT. The person answering the phone was utterly baffled – apparently this never happens.

Tara, yeah, Ellsworth recommends calling congresspeople to thank them for doing the right thing, especially if it’s something they’re taking a lot of flak for. And since so few people do it you likely get a lot more bang for the buck with your call that way.

My Senate reps are

1) Corker: who endorsed Trump.
2) Alexander: who never endorsed Trump but never denounced him either.

I wrote both emails ( I now know this to be a bit useless as per advice above) about how DJT was an aberration to be resisted and that as someone who has been a party activist (for two different parties in US and UK) that I knew what a huge ask this was. I got a considered response from Alexander who basically couldn’t have ridden that fence much harder, but nothing from Corker.

My HR is shite. An avid pro-Trumper.

Basically, I’m not sure contacting my reps is worth the phone call.

There is a tumblr post blaming the awfulness of this year on a person who stole bones from a Black cemetary and was selling them (the bone stealing happened ~late last December/ early this January). The post says they cursed the entire year, and I’m not sure they’re wrong.


You’d probably do more harm than good if you tried. Foreign influence is, well, a tricky topic.

Do what I do – research and fact check/ gather for friends in the US, so they can do the actual letter/call.


Are you currently living here in Australia? (sorry, I wasn’t sure from your comment, and didn’t want to assume).
We could certainly apply the spirit of Ellsworth’s advice to the context here – after all, we have our own far-right battles (especially if Bernardi and friends make good on their threats to form their own party; not to mention One Nation, obv).

You omitted our very own no-I’m-not-a-sovereign-citizen, global warming is a hoax, All I Want Is Empirical Evidence, Malcolm Witless-Wotsit Roberts. The eternal bore.

Though his attempt to tell Julia Gillard she had to make a “contract” with him did give a lot of us a lot of laughs when we first found out about it. Esp since he was by this time loudly proclaiming his non-sovereign-citizen credentials.

For those unacquainted with sovereign citizens, we might laugh at Roberts, but they are, in fact, a serious thorn in the side of courts and court officials in the USA and Canada.

No use writing to mine… I’m from Kansas… my elected representatives can’t read….

And speaking of legislators, #ResistGamerGate co-star Brianna Wu considering a run for congress!! YAAAYYYYY!!!

At the moment, after President Fart’s latest Twitter shitstorm, I’m wondering if it’s in bad taste to suggest a sweepstake on when his more Nazi -esque followers turn on him with potentially dangerous fury.

@Rugbyyogi: Hey-o, I’m in almost the same boat as you. I think our representatives might be different. I’ve tried to remember to call Alexander and Corker at least weekly, but the holidays got in the way, and then Congress recessed.

Oh yeah, that’s another important thing: Congress recesses and while the ‘critters’ offices are still open, they’ve gone back home to brag about their accomplishments, which used to include listing all of the pork they managed to win for their constituencies while also claiming to fight against pork, but now that we’ve got rid of earmarks I’m not sure what they do. Promise to repeal Obamacare?

Fashionistah, I get what you mean – but (comments policy re mental illness), eh?

We have some tories over here too (often referred to as “wet”) who have not lost quite all compassion and humanity, and who are at least somewhat amenable to considering actual evidence :-s
I’m guessing that’s a bit like an old-school R where you are.

My local rep is a genuine centrist – in other words, widely regarded as a “dangerous left-wing extremist” by press and many other politicians ;-).
There probably isn’t anything I could ask them to do that they’re not already doing as hard as they can. Maybe I should send some more thank-you messages, though.

@Fashionistah I’ve always liked Lamar – or at any rate respected him… til now. I’ve never voted for him for Senate (was always too young to vote for him for Gov). He honestly tried – I think – to make education better, though I’m not sure how effective it was. I agree with few of his policies and he’s a lying liar when it comes to politics of reproductive freedom, so I can’t say I support him, but I sure as hell expected better from him. And I know he thinks Trump is a con at best.

Now I think Lamar’s a shit. He could have stood up with little political cost (that I can see), but he didn’t. I can’t imagine that he’ll run for Senate again, and if he does, he oughtn’t to. Although given the type who’s likely to replace him, maybe he should hang on til the grave.

@falconer, given how shit most of the TN congressional delegation is, I gotta assume you’re in Nashville or Memphis.

@abars01 you cannot and must not attempt to give money to any US political organisations or attempt to contact reps purporting to be a constituent. There is nothing wrong with contacting reps who have cttee positions, but it won’t hold much sway. Best thing you can do is subscribe to reputable publications: NY Times, Washington Post, Mother Jones, for example. You might be able to donate to Planned Parenthood or to SPLC, but if they say you must be a citizen – do not proceed with donations.

The absolute best thing you can do that costs no money is to lampoon Trump online while maintaining a sense of decency toward the American people. Many Trumpers have told me that they thought America would be a laughingstock if HRC was elected. : EYEROLL:

@Rugbyyogi: Actually, I’m over in East Tennessee, just east of the time zone, actually. Drive about 30 minutes west and we have to set our clocks back.

I have been emailing my representative when she does things right and when she votes in ways I disapprove of. I’ll switch to snail mail and consider phoning. Phoning is hard for me, especially the remembering during the workday part. Though maybe I can leave a voice message in off hours.

I’ve gotten very familiar with Chuck Schumer’s recorded phone message, which doesn’t appear to provide a way to leave voicemail. (Dude, if you’re not going to stand up to Trump, why are you in leadership? And can we clone Harry Reid?)

I definitely need to call my rep, Carolyn Maloney, and ask her not to support Trump’s infrastructure bill. She’s lovely on many issues but is holding out far too many olive branches right now.

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