On January 2, 2017, in its very first day, the 115th Congress voted 119-74 to enact a change that would have totally changed the way we hold lawmakers accountable for misconduct.
Presented by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the proposal would have transferred Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) administration from the independent body originally created to oversee it in 2008 directly to lawmakers themselves. The amendment would have placed the OCE under the authority of the House Ethics Committee, a body comprised entirely of legislators from both parties.
Almost immediately, the public erupted. In the hours following the vote, lawmakers received a virtual tidal wave of emails, phone calls, and social media mentions condemning the decision and demanding it be thrown out. Even the President-Elect tweeted his displeasure with the decision.
Mere hours later, the House called an emergency session to strike down the previous vote. By January 3, the Goodlatte proposal was no more.
Robert Costa of The Washington Post credited the American public’s enormous outcry with the rapid reversal.
So what can be learned from one of the first legislative events of our current Congress? No matter what anyone says or how anyone tries to discourage, the fact is
REACHING OUT TO YOUR LAWMAKERS GETS THINGS DONE.
This is especially true when you do it by phone–forgoing the script and speaking from your own experience and heart.
According to Minnesota political analyst Blois Olsen and Emily Ellsworth, former employee for Utah Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, personal phone calls are exceptionally powerful because of the emotional impact they have on staffers. While emails and tweets can come off impersonal and fall flat, it’s hard for any human being to ignore a real voice, a unique story, and an earnest request dozens of times a day.
Congressional staffers are important influences on our lawmakers, and as Ellsworth explains, when the public has sympathetic ears with those closest to our legislators, we have allies in convincing them to embrace our ideas.
As for email, there are often so many messages flooding a Congressman’s inbox he can’t–or won’t–respond to them all. Making a phone call increases the odds that your elected officials will hear and respond to your message.
Now that we’ve heard the experts speak and have seen the real life consequences of the public emphatically making use of our First Amendment right to give Congress a ring and “redress” those “grievances,” we know what we need to do to.
If we want our Congressmen to focus on protecting our Social Security, crafting meaningful legislation to permanently stop the spending of our benefits, and prioritize seniors by working together to fix this approaching insolvency crisis, we need to ask them ourselves.
Over on our new Locate Your Legislators page, you’ll find a handy tool that uses your zip code to locate your elected officials and display their contact information. Use this to call your legislators and demand support for America’s seniors and protection for their Social Security benefits.
And if you do contact your Congressmen, we’d love to know! Head over to our Contact Us page, give us a shout on Twitter, or make a post on our Facebook page. We’d love to thank you for doing your part to take our fight for seniors straight to Congress!