Engaging Your Congressional Representative: 10 Tips to Get Results
Engaging Your Congressional Representative
[Go to http://www.congress.org
for your Representatives contact info]
Political work starts at the local level in your district, before your
Representative gets to DC, and continues when he or she is at the Capitol.
(In fact, some activists have been starting early with candidates for
officesee Report from a District).
3. The composition of your delegation should show that support for a just peace cuts across ethnic and religious lines and that a just peace is supported by both money and votes.
4. Focus on a few simple messages, backed by clear, concise facts and figures. As American citizens, you are deeply concerned about US support to the Israeli occupation, through military aid and non-fulfillment of UN resolutions. Make sure that a key take-home message is "End the Occupation."
5. Rehearse with your delegation before you go, and agree who will make which point. You will cover much more ground in the time you have.
6. No matter how much you might disagree with your Representative's voting records, never berate or disparage him or her face-to-face or through his or her staff. This is the surest way to deny yourself access in the future. Instead, point out specific pieces of legislation where you would have liked for him or her to have voted the other way and explain why.
7. If you are asking the Members to do something pro-active, be sure to contact them after a reasonable amount of time if they have not done what you have requested.
8. Follow up with Congressional staffers on the issues. Offer expertise, and foster personal contacts. Find out the issues in which they are interested. They will start calling you for ideas, contacts, and advice. Do not go over the heads of staffers to reach your Representative-you may achieve short-term gains but lose on long-term access.
9. Successful initiatives empower members of your own constituency and community. Activists have found they are able to raise money from a much broader circle and get better responses to calls for action when their constituencies are empowered.
10. Activism for a just peace in the Middle East is closely related to civil liberties and human rights at home. Activists have successfully linked issues and communities. The work you do will have a multiplier effect.
This report was sent to the Campaign in mid-August 2002 by a signatory who lives in a state on the West Coast. Because this was a personal communication, names have been withheld.
I would encourage people not only
to visit their representatives but also to work on candidates. We had
some success here with the Democratic candidate for the Senate. A diverse
group of community leaders (Jews, Muslims, Christians, and community
leaders with deep pockets) met with the candidate for dinner on the
Israel/Palestine conflict. He was very balanced-initially.