By Molly Petersen ’20
Headlines surfaced a few weeks ago about a certain legislator who said, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare,” at a town hall. It turned out the legislator in question was my own representative, Raul Labrador, and the town hall happened in my home town.
Needless to say I felt mortified to call this person my representative. When asked about the statements made by my legislator, I wanted to say something to the tune of, “yeah, I’m upset about it.” Except I had this nagging question stopping me: Why should I get to say that?
I know that Labrador calls himself a member of the GOP, I know his stance on healthcare, why should I expect anything else? I may know where he stands, but he does not know where I stand.
Who am I to express discontent about him not living up to my expectations when he does not know what I expect of him?
Legislators do not automatically know what all of their constituents think, and no, they do not spend their days reading their Facebook posts. Yes, you may feel vindicated when you post about how disappointed you feel, but little change will actually happen.
If you actually care enough to draft a post ranting about something, call your legislators first. If you really want the change your post calls for, do something about it. Call your legislators. If you do not care enough to call, do not post.
When you call, your message actually gets through. Or so says people actually answering the phones and reading emails in your legislators’ offices. According to last fall’s New York Times article entitled Here’s Why You Should Call, Not Email, Your Legislators, calls get written down and shared with legislators, emails may not, tweets even less likely, and Facebook posts? Forget about it.
Calling your legislators justifies your words. How can you claim that a legislator will not listen to their constituency if none of their constituents say anything? Until your words reach their ears, your words remain empty and meaningless. Once your voice becomes part of the conversation, you have a right to discuss what is going wrong.
So before you draft a tweet, call your legislator. Before you share an article on why this is a thing and you should be concerned, call your legislator. Before you burn several bridges and sort of feel better for a second from your social media soapbox, call your legislator.