In the face of all the forces that hold back progress, it is easy to feel powerless.
But this is not true. The American citizen is powerful.
Yes, you read that correctly. It is just that American citizens need to learn how to exercise that power to further their own interests. This page is about showing what you can do, as an American citizen, to exercise your power to further the values and program of Many Peoples, One Nation.
There are several things that you can do. I list them below, and I explain each one below the list. Click on a heading (like “A. Gather information”) to go to that section of the page.
The United States Congress are the people who make the laws in this country. Congress is composed of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Every one of the fifty U.S. States has two Senators. In addition, every bit of all fifty States is divided up into Congressional Districts; each Congressional District elects one Representative to the House. So, every person in the fifty States is represented in Congress by two Senators and one Representative. That’s a total of three Congresspeople who should be working for you.
Post their names, their email addresses, and their telephone numbers on, say, your refrigerator or bulletin board. (C’mon, let’s admit it: at least half of the families in the U.S. have their most crucial contact information and schedules posted on the ‘fridge!)
How do you get this information? It’s easy:
The website process takes less than ten minutes. Some Congresspeople don’t list their emails, but provide contact forms. Some don’t list telephone numbers; call the Capitol switchboard (above) and ask.
The Senate and the House have many committees. Often the Senate and the House each have a committee that addresses the same issue (such as foreign affairs). Each Senator and each Representative serve on at least one committee; some serve on several.
It is important for you to know what the Committee assignments are, for your two Senators and one Representative. This is not hard to find out:
Senators and Representatives live to be re-elected. A given Congressperson may also be concerned about serving their constituents, but even Congresspersons like this know that they can only serve their constituents while in office; so, even the best of Senators and Representatives are concerned about re-election.
This puts a great deal of power in the hands of a citizen. If a citizen—better yet, a group of citizens—makes clear that they want a Congressperson to take action in one way rather than another, they exert influence on that Congressperson. Best of all, if a citizen or group of citizens makes clear that their vote for or against that Congressperson depends on taking action in one way rather than another, they exert a great deal of influence over that Congressperson.
The best way to exert this kind of influence is by communicating with a Congressperson—preferably through both email and by telephone—and make your position clear as crystal, stating at a minimum your name and state of residence (as well as city or town and ZIP Code, if contacting a Representative). If the person taking your call at a Congressperson’s office wants your address, give it to them. (You may well get a letter in response.)
Look at it this way: when a Congressperson gets a report from his or her staff about constituent response concerning some piece of legislation, it will mean one thing if they get a report saying that there are 1,200 constituents for it and 1,500 against it. However, it will mean something rather different if they get a report saying that there are 1,200 constituents for it, and 2,500 against it who will not vote for this Congressperson again if that member of Congress votes for the measure.
You will know what measures matter to you enough to say this. It is your right as a citizen to put things across in this manner.
The second great rule of citizen power in Congress is that a given Congressperson only really cares about your opinion if you are a constituent, eligible to vote for her or him.
It really is just that simple. You don’t have to like this arrangement, but you do have to deal with it. (Remember the statement from our Process page: “Liking reality is optional; dealing with it is mandatory.”)
Incidentally, if one is not yet eligible to vote (perhaps because of age or pending citizenship status), you have every right to communicate with your Congresspeople; after all, the laws they pass affect you. However, in those cases, the thing to do is to communicate solely by email, rather than telephone as well.
Email and call your Congresspeople—again, and again. Nagthem, to get what you want. It’s your right as a citizen. Remember: these people make three times the average American’s salary, and get a lifetime pension and lifelong luxury-level subsidized health care, to boot. Make them work for it!
Just remember that you have to take different strategies, depending on which of two types of legislation you are concerned with.
At any given time, the Senate and the House are considering legislation that is relevant to the Program of Many Peoples, One Nation. You should contact your Senators and Representatives to tell them how you think they should vote.
But how will you know what legislation is under consideration? That’s easy—if you subscribe to our blog, and listen to our podcast. Every week, the blog and the podcast make clear what urgent legislation is under consideration.
Take that information and tell your two Senators and one Representative how they should vote on this pending legislation. It is your privilege, your right, and you’re your responsibility to tell them this. After all, they are your representatives, after all.
What if someone—like the Senate Majority Leader, or the House Speaker—refuses to consider legislation that has passed the other house of Congress, or that has passed out of committee? Contact your representative in that house of Congress to tell them to apply pressure on the offending party. For example, if the Senate Majority Leader is holding things up, write and call your Senators and tell them to agitate to see that these measures get to a vote.
The fact of the matter is, on many occasions, Congresspeople need some prompting (some would say prodding, poking, even nudging) to craft new legislation that we need. Who does that prompting, prodding, poking, and nudging? You do, O Powerful Citizen! There are some tricks to this, but this is your job, and you can do it.
Take a look at the many measures mentioned in our Program. Every week, pick something and tell your Congresspeople to propose legislation on the topic.
If your Congresspeople are on Committees that are relevant to this legislation, all the better. But if they are not, communicate with them anyway: Congresspeople talk to each other, and pass along what their constituents say.
Look at it this way. Senator Jones is on the XYZ Committee. Jones gets some constituents who want to see Jones introduce legislation to this Committee. Jones is thinking about it. Then, when Jones chats with Senators Smith and Brown over lunch, they each tell Jones that theirconstituents want the same legislation, even though it doesn’t apply to any of the Committees that they sit on. Now Jones is thinking that maybe this idea ‘has legs,’ and decides to introduce legislation (and get Smith and Brown to co-sponsor it).
Of course, what would be great would be if large numbers of people all told their Senators and Representatives to sponsor XYZ legislation at the same time. But how can you coordinate that? That’s where we come in. Every week, in the blog and on the podcast, Many Peoples, One Nation sponsors some particular measure from our Program. This way, everyone who wants to can join in prodding, cajoling, and, frankly, nagging their Senators and Representatives about that measure.
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