Recently I've been writing more emails to my senators and congressman, especially since we are urged to do so "in order to make our voices heard", but I'm wondering if it really does any good. One particular senator is ultra-conservative, and my views are diametrically opposed to his, so I'm wondering if my time would be better spent supporting organizations that are fighting for the causes I believe in, rather than expressing my views to someone who will most likely vote according to his own conservative beliefs and those of his most generous campaign donors. Is it a waste of time to write to a rep who is my political and social opposite? Do our letters and phone calls really have any impact on our representatives?
Thanks very much,
Answer In general you are right. If you really disagree with your rep, it may be better to work to defeat him next time.
Sometimes you may want to help an organization that has a campaign on and wants to build its numbers. And there may be less ideological issues where your rep might be swayed. And there are rare examples - raising the minimum wage recently - where a rep may cave to pressure. But generally you are right.
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Thanks, John; I now know how to put my time to better use.
How Congress works, how to influence Congress, how Congress can be improved, how state legislatures work, how to influence state legislatures, how the Massachusetts legislature works, how to influence the Massachusetts legislature, why the presidential debates are unfair, how to improve the presidential debates, why the US electoral system is unfair, how to improve the US electoral system, how to end the two-party monopoly
Political activist for 40 years, currently working on the Ralph Nader presidential campaign. Professor of political science for 26 years.
Organizations American Association of Political Consultants, American Political Science Association, International Political Science Association, Caucus for a New Political Science, International Political Science Association, National Society for Experiential Education
Publications Polity, Policy Studies Journal, Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Journal, author of Unequal Struggle: Class, Gender, Race, and Power in the US Congress (Westview Press, 1994).
Education/Credentials PhD Harvard University 1975
MA Harvard University 1973
BA with Honors University of Wisconsin 1964