Do not wait for someone else to read your mind and fight for those freedoms and services which allow you to have a happy life. Each of us must apply pressure to the powerful so that our weight can offset the influence of those who seek merely to profit off us or who actively threaten our liberty.

Fortunately, it’s really not hard to act. Most calls take a minute or so. When you get through, a staff person will take down your information, usually say thank you, and then the call is over.

What you say will almost always take this form:

“Hello, this is [your name] from [your city or, if calling a local official, your neighborhood]. I’m calling to ask [title and last name, e.g. “Senator Smith” or “Supervisor Garcia”] to [oppose or support] [a specific policy, bill, appointment, or other matter on which they’ll be voting]. Thank you.”

Sometimes you’ll be asked to provide your name, phone number, or zip code. Usually that’s their only question.

If you get an answering machine, just say the same message to it.

If you can’t get through, try again in 45 minutes. Keep trying until your word gets to them.

 

Once that vote takes place, look and see what your representative did.

If they voted how you asked, call back to thank them (“…I’m calling to thank Representative Jones for supporting House Bill 123…”).

If they didn’t, call back to complain, to remind them of your position on the issue, and to mention that you’re making note of this in considering whether to support them in the next election (“…I’m calling to complain about Councilmember Lee’s vote against funding more buses with wheelchair lifts. I strongly believe in adding more accessibility to our transit system and I will be looking for a better candidate as I consider my vote in June…”). Then do make a note of it and do consult your notes when election time comes and you’re thinking about the issues that matter to you.

 

Get comfortable with speaking up for what will maintain and improve a good quality of life for you, your friends and family, and the place where you live—from the local to the planet level. Government that doesn’t act on behalf of the people is broken government and needs to be changed.

Start by making sure you call on an issue every week. Work quickly up to at least three calls a week to different elected officials. Make it part of your routine and keep notes on issues you care about to remind you what calls you want to make and what action you asked them to take.

Your voice matters and can help create a better future.

 

Here are more tips on calling elected officials and on getting to know who represents you in government at the local, state, and federal level.

Here’s how one of us tracks her action contacting elected officials.