BLOG: Write your Congressman! Maybe he'll answer

Tom Jackson
May 11, 2012

My wife is not particularly political, but she's very interested in animal rights.

The other day, using a suggested letter that she copied and slightly modified from one posted by an advocacy group, she sent emails to Ohio's two U.S. senators, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

Here's the first graph:

As one of your constituents, I urge you to OPPOSE H.R. 3798, United Egg Producers’ (UEP) amendments to the “Egg Products Inspection Act,” which would nullify existing state laws concerning the treatment of egg-laying hens – and would forever keep hens locked in cages.

Portman, a Republican, sent an answer. First couple of graphs:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about animal welfare. It is good to hear from you.

I believe we must protect the welfare of animals and act responsibly and humanely towards them. As an avid outdoorsman and conservationist I agree with you that our animal welfare laws must be effectively enforced.

You'll note, I think, that the answering message has nothing to do with the issue my wife actually wrote to him about -- asking for a specific stance on a specific bill dealing with a segment of agriculture.

At least Portman answered. Nothing at all came back from Brown, a Democrat running for re-election this year.

I wonder if technology is part of the problem here. Years ago, "Write your congressman" involved having to actually sit down a pen a letter, hunt up an envelope, address it, etc. It may have helped keep the volume of mail to a manageable level.

Nowadays, its easy for an advocacy group to urge its supporters to flood a congressman with emails. Copying and pasting and letter and sending it takes only a few seconds. No doubt keeping up with the flood of messages even from actual constituents must be daunting. That's probably especially true for U.S. senators, who get mail from an entire state.

One possible solution is to essentially automate the replies, so that any letter having to do with animal rights gets the generic "I love animals and I support animal welfare" reply.

Years ago, when then-senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma spoke at a chamber breakfast, he told the members to write "personal" on the outside of an envelope if they want to make sure he actually sees the letter. That's probably still good advice.

 

Comments

tk

I have written to Senators Brown and Portman on numerous occassions.  I always receive a response from Senator Brown.  I have yet to receive one from Portman.  That's most likely because Senator Brown and I are usually on the same side of an issue.  Seems Portman doesn't answer if he disagrees with your viewpoint.
 

SamAdams

emails, particularly those of the "form" variety, are a dime a dozen. And because they're so easy to push a button and send, politicians get a million of them. As much as I'm inclined to demand representatives be responsible to and communicate with their constituents, I don't blame them for not responding to all of their emails.

If you want a response — and I've written dozens of times to a variety of office holders with excellent results — make a phone call, or send a REAL letter. And don't copy and paste somebody else's words! Rewrite. Add your own personal comments. Is it more work? Yes. Is it worth it? That depends on whether or not you actually want your opinion to matter.

Erie County Resident

I've written not emailed Kaptur and Brown many times trying to get some help or answers.

All I ever recieve is a form letter with BS concern on their part. Never an answer or a requested contact, just fluff to make it look like they care.

Phone calls all get the canned response of we'll look in to it. Never any result.

They only work for one person... Themselves.

The only perople that get any answers or face time are the ones that can provide an exellent photo-op.

The Big Dog's back

 ecr, why would you need help? Can't make it on your own? You need GOV?

Erie County Resident

@ Dumb Dog

In response to your crack towards me.

Mind your own business and have mommy read the article to you. It's about something other than me.

I want some answers by the clowns in office that seem to forget that they are suppose to represent the people in their district. But it is obvious you don't understand this concept by your comment.

Now go back home to your mommies house you entitled basement dweller.

6079 Smith W

@ Jackson:

Tell your spouse to enclose a campaign check the next time and see if the responses are any different. :)

I haven't bothered to write for yrs. And regardless, one politico is just about the same as the other.

All they care about you personally is your vote and money.

 

dig this

  Senator Brown, Sandusky waits for the housing investigation. Start with my home on First St.

FruGalSpender

"Senator Brown, Sandusky waits for the housing investigation. Start with my home on First St."  don't look for brown to do anything to weed out corruption in sandusky. brown doesn't want to go there.

KURTje

Tom...should not your wording be different???     "Write them - maybe they'll answer".    (Unless our elected officials are men only)           thanxs

Taxed Enough Already

 If I were a senator I would not have addressed this issue either.  You really mean to tell me your wife is worried about caged chickens????  LAME

Kottage Kat

I have written and not only gotten a personal written response, the late Shirley Tubbs Jones contacted me by phone to discuss the points I made in my letter. It is quality not quantity of the letters when written. Thank you for the suggestion of writing personal on the envelope. Cannot fault one party or another as I have gotten responses from members of both parties.                   Kat