TODAY’S DAILY ACTION (6-24-2017)
There is still a hiring freeze in the State Department and it’s having an especially detrimental effect on embassies and consulates because there is very high turnover in a large number of positions at overseas posts. This has many negative repercussions in different areas, from medical services to visa issuance to management issues.
Also, a report is due to the White House by the end of the month outlining the State Department restructuring. It is concerning that this report is being created when so few upper-level department positions have been filled. Tillerson has no foreign policy experience and doesn’t seem to have experienced advisers. Congress has already expressed dismay that the administration is ignoring Congressional intent in some State Department matters.
Over the next few days, please write or call your MoCs (House and Senate) to let them know if you are concerned about this. You can also contact the members of the House and Senate foreign affairs/relations committees and the new Senate Foreign Service Caucus. Ask them to look into the reasons behind the hiring freeze and to make sure the administration is meeting its obligations under US law. Tell them the State Department needs the support of Congress to do its job well.
Get Up Close and Personal
Face-to-face is the best way to be heard.
- Set up meetings at local or even national offices with officials or staff
- Attend town hall meetings
- Come prepared with specific questions
- Push for straight answers while always remaining civil
Grab Your Phone and Call
Since in-person meetings aren’t always possible, call your senators and representatives often, even daily when needed. Calls are what your congressmen and congresswomen pay attention to most. (With letters/postcards and emails/online petitions coming in at second and third, respectively.) Every day, the senior staff and senator/representative get a report of the three most-called-about topics for the day at each office and how many people said what about each topic.
Some calling guidelines:
- First and foremost, be courteous, respectful, and direct.
- Make 6 calls a day when you can, calling both local and DC offices of your two senators and one representative. o If you don’t know them, you can find the numbers online or text your zip code to 520-200-2223 for federal and state representative contact information and save the numbers to your phone.
- Give your zip code, even if they don’t ask for it, because that is how the information is sorted.
- When calling the DC office, ask for the staff member in charge of whatever you’re calling about (immigration, or education, or health care). If you get transferred to them, great. If you don’t, talk to the person who answered the phone.
- Leaving a message is not as effective as talking to a person. Keep trying to get through.
- Try to make it personal. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/etc.” or “I’m a teacher and I’m concerned about…” or whatever your story may be.
- Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. They’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so focus. Make it as timely and relevant as possible each time you call, but keep calling regularly.
- Be clear about what you want. “I want to thank the Senator for her vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in ___ way is the wrong decision for our state because” or “I’m disappointed that the Senator….” Don’t leave any ambiguity.
- They may get to know your voice or get sick of you. Don’t worry – the people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway.
- Thank them for their time answering the phones.
Engage on Social Media
Expressing your opinions about political issues on social media can also be an effective way to engage your representatives. Here, your opinion is also shared with your followers and, when using hashtags, with the Twittersphere. However, be sure to put a . before your rep’s twitter handle, so that it is more visible. This article explains why.
When All Else Fails: Faxing and Email
If you can’t get through at all in person or by phone, consider faxing your representative. The website https://faxzero.com allows you to send up to five free faxes per day.
Email is ideal when sharing digital content or links to support your case.
AT MWEG, WE’VE ALREADY . . .
- Hosted 45 Postcards events
- Participated in “Meet the Muslims” nights
- Attended Town Hall meetings
- Participated in focused phone blitzes to our elected representatives (“I have a phone, and I know how to use it!”)
- Attended local International Refugee Committee (IRC) training meetings
- Collected stories and recipes from refugee families to be compiled into a book (all proceeds to benefit refugee relief efforts)
- Organized venues and publicity for a TSOS (Their Story is Our Story) lecture series
- Supported NFP organizations such as Lifting Hands International
- Worked hard to educate ourselves on how to be more engaged civically
- Written and published op-eds, letters to the editor, articles, blog posts, etc.
- Designed and distributed memes, posters, and other visuals to encourage civic engagement
- Organized into twenty different committees, each focused on a different area (discrimination, health care, constitutional violations, foreign affairs, etc.) with the intent of acting as watchdogs, researching developments, educating ourselves, and implementing specific plans of action either to oppose illegal/unethical initiatives or to promote positive action.
- Established thirty-four state/region MWEG chapters.