The most important part of a representative democracy (besides voting) is expressing your opinions and views to those who represent you. Your voice in how your town, state, and country are run doesn't begin and end with election day - you can (and should) write to your elected officials to tell them how you feel.
2 Ways to Contact Your Representatives
1. The Easy Way - Text Them
No, you won't actually be able to text them directly, but you can send them emails and faxes directly from your texting app. This is done through an automated program called ResistBot (we have no affiliation).
Step One: Text "Resist" to 50409
You'll get automatic responses that walk you through finding your representatives, writing a letter, and sending it to them - all through text messages. For your first time, try sending a letter to "CONGRESS" which will be to both of your Senators and to your State Representative in the House of Representatives.
Step Two: Reply with your Name and Address
Following the prompts, reply with your first and last name and your address. You'll only do this once; it tells the program how to sign your letters, and your address will be used to find who your representatives are.
Step Three: Write your letter
Do you think the government should do more to protect endangered species? Do you want compost to be collected just like trash and recycling? Tell them! You can write whatever you want. See the bottom of this article for a template.
Step Four: Text "DONE"
That's it! You just texted all your representatives at once. They'll receive your message through their preferred method (email or fax), but you didn't have to go through the hassle of sending your message to each one individually. Now, whenever you want to share your thoughts to them, just go back to your message thread and text "Resist" to start your next letter!
2. The Other Way
Step One: Find your representatives
You can go to usa.gov/elected-officials which has further links for your Senators, House Representatives, Governor, State Legislators, and Local Officials. You'll have to visit each of these sites to find the names and contact information of your elected officials.
CommonCause makes this part easier.
Step Two: Fill out their contact form
Most elected officials will not provide their email address on their website, but they'll provide a contact form. You'll enter your name, address, contact information, and message you would like to send.
You'll have to do this for each of the representatives you want to contact.
Letter Template You Can Use
I am a constituent and voter, and I support [fill in]. [Explain the problem that exists, and how the policy that you support helps solve it].
I urge you to show your support as well.
Example: Fossil Fuel Subsidies
I am a constituent and voter, and I believe subsidies to fossil fuel companies must end in order to improve public health and move to a more sustainable energy mix. Tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry are outdated - these companies are developed and highly profitable; they don't need financial support from the federal government. Support for newer, sustainable energy sources like solar and wind (which are already price-competitive with fossil fuels) would not only ensure affordable energy, but it would also mitigate the enormous environmental, climate, and public health impacts of burning coal, oil, and natural gas.
Given the choice of subsidizing an industry that has led to a global existential crisis or one that will move us into a cleaner, healthier future - the choice is clear.
Example: Water Pollution
I am a constituent and voter, and I believe we should be doing more to protect safe drinking water for Americans. According to the NRDC, nearly half of our rivers and streams and more than one-third of our lakes are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, and drinking - and the major pollutant sources are farms. Animal waste and fertilizer runoff pollute surface and ground water every time it rains, degrading water quality. Policies that regulate how farms capture and treat this runoff may have a large impact on access to safe and clean water.
Additionally, our aging wastewater treatment facilities are releasing 850 billion gallons of untreated (industrial, commercial, and agriculture waste) water every year. There must be an improvement in regulations and accountability for polluters of our water resources that are essential for life.
Example: Climate Change
I am a constituent and voter, and I support strong climate action. Climate change has already begun to create serious challenges for US residents: record high temperatures and heatwaves, stronger hurricanes, more flooding, and more frequent wildfires. These problems will only continue to get worse if climate change is not faced head on.
I urge you to support and promote policies that encourage renewable energy production and disincentivize the use of fossil fuels. Not only will this begin to address a global crisis, it will reduce pollution, lead to cleaner air and healthier Americans, and create many new jobs.
Other topics to consider
- Plastic Pollution - taxes or bans on single-use plastic bags, take-out containers, etc.
- Protecting Wilderness - preventing drilling and mining, reducing development and deforestation, and preserving wild ecosystems
- Factory Farming - enforcing animal rights protections, holding farms accountable for pollution and their impact on the local environment and waterways
- Wildlife - protecting at-risk species and restoring habitats
- Air Quality - strengthening and upholding air quality standards
- Toxic Chemicals and Pesticides - improving chemical oversight and regulation to prevent not only damage to insects, animals, and ecosystems, but also cancer, reproductive harm, and developmental disorders.
- Carbon Tax - implementing a fee on carbon usage and emissions