Share your letters to your representatives! November 8, 2020 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by this comment by Greg_Ace, let's amplify our activism. If you've written a letter to one of your democratically-elected representatives, share it here, and inspire the rest of us!

A few suggestions for this thread:
  • This isn't just for Mefites in the US! Democracy works best with an engaged electorate everywhere. If you feel comfortable sharing the information, you can let us know where you're writing from.
  • Likewise, this isn't just for engagement at the national level. Share your letters state/provincial and local officials too!
  • Share your letter, redacting any personally identifying information you don't want shared. You can give a little context for the letter (e.g., local issue, relevant information about your district, etc.) if you like!
  • Letters to representatives who are politically opposed to you are just as worthwhile as ones to those you expect to be more likely to actually listen! Remind them and their offices that you're engaged and watching them.
  • Let us know if you don't mind others borrowing your ideas or text for their own letters to their elected representatives.
  • This is mostly for sharing, not critiquing/discussing. Letters to your representative may be highly personal, and the most important thing is that you're engaging with the process and communicating your thoughts to your reps. Don't give unsolicited criticism or advice on others' writing.
  • On the other hand, if you're planning to write a letter and want help composing it, this could be a good place to ask!
A few helpful links for Americans wanting to contact their elected officials at the federal level: Mefites from countries other than the US are invited to share resources for contacting elected officials in their home countries as well!

Democracy is about so much more than what happens during the election campaign season. Staying engaged through activism and communicating with your representatives is an essential part of helping guide your government!
posted by biogeo to MetaFilter-Related at 7:35 PM (24 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Current mood
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:16 PM on November 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

okay i guess I'll go first?

Dear Democratic politician,

I’m a middle-aged white lady from central Illinois, and I’m deeply dismayed to hear centrist Democrats who have lost their races blaming others in the party for their failures.

Representatives such as Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are doing exactly what they were elected to do: represent the political interests of their districts. They were reelected with ample support because their positions are what their constituents want. Why should they do their jobs less well because candidates in other districts lost? Why do others in the party expect them to compromise their principles because lying Republicans have distorted the public discourse, branding even the mildest of government initiatives as “socialist”? Lay the blame where it belongs: at the feet of the Republicans, who embraced lying conspiracy theories to undercut confidence in democracy, and at the feet of Democratic leadership who utterly failed to respond to it effectively.

Democratic leadership is selling out the young people most motivated to effect change to hang on to a fanciful group of older white centrist voters. Surely you realize this is ultimately a losing strategy. Smart young people know there’s no point to “compromising” with Republicans or even with ineffective centrists: that without drastic action to combat global warming, the huge economic disparities of the US, and the rapid rise of racist fascism, there’s no future for them. They have absolutely no reason to stop pushing for change, because they have nothing to lose. There’s no point in compromising on an ineffective middle ground when we need radical change to survive. The writing is on the wall, and the old way of American politics has come to an end.

Instead of working to defeat the hysterical scaremongering of the Republicans, centrist Democrats are trying to pander to a fictional base of “reasonable conservatives.” This election showed in the starkest way that those people do not exist. The Republican Party is now entirely the party of self-destructive Trumpism, and the weak protests of a few defectors only reinforces that. There won’t be any valid compromise with the GOP for at least a generation, not without sacrificing any meaningful Democratic goal for actually helping citizens. Watering down every message about progressive policy will get you nothing, because even the most centrist of candidates in swing districts will be ruthlessly abused and branded as a Communist, simply for having the slightest inclination to stand up to Mitch McConnell and the other vile self-interested players at the heart of the GOP. The Democrats have failed to mount a competitive strategy over digital media since Obama was in office; they’ve made a minimal effort to coordinate any sort of meaningful campaign of door-knocking or on-the-ground outreach; and now you’re undercutting the young people and people of color who won the presidency for you. You’re about to shoot yourselves in the foot in the worst way.

Furthermore, I’m not at all convinced that the national Democratic Party mechanism is functional, or made meaningful contributions to the outcome of this election. Where was the support for candidates at the state level, who lost so much ground this election? In 2018 I knocked on doors and helped get out the vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress in my district. She came within a few thousand votes of unseating the incumbent Republican, a feckless Trump sycophant. This year, the same Democratic candidate lost by a much more substantial margin, and it sure as heck wasn’t because her positions were too radical. She failed to have much of a media presence at all this cycle. She had no door-knocking ground game at all, as far as I know; she didn’t even have yard signs out in a timely fashion. Meanwhile Republican Dingus doubled down on cute pictures illustrating his ties to local farmers, nursing homes, and so forth, and sure enough his ties to the community carried him through.

No doubt there were other factors in this loss as well, including the reduced number of student voters in the area due to the pandemic. But NONE of that can be attributed to undue influence from left-leaning Democrats in other districts. And I certainly don’t see any point in contributing to campaigns that are bound to lose because they aren’t getting needed support from the national level.

The Republicans were always going to find a way to cheat, lie, smear candidates as cheap Communist stereotypes, resort to fearmongering, and embrace the vilest elements among themselves in order to win. If literal Nazis like Madison Cawthorn can win for the GOP, why can’t the Democrats have enough courage to fully embrace their most progressive members?

I’m not contributing another dime, nor another moment of my time, to any Democratic candidate who doesn’t have actual progressive platforms. I’m not going to support a party that benefits from the work of progressives but then rewards cowardly apologists like Joe Manchin (or even, for no good reason at all, John Kasich) with airtime. I respect the work of many Democrats in Illinois very much, but I’m tired of good-faith support for cowardly Democrats who can’t stand up for their constituents with conviction.

If the Democrats can’t see which way the wind is blowing, and get recalcitrant leaders like Feinstein out of the way, then we’re completely screwed in four years when the Republicans run a much more competent fascist for office. Either the Democrats start listening NOW to the folks who are actually delivering for them, or we’re all finished.

I would like a response to this letter at your convenience.

posted by daisystomper at 9:29 PM on November 8, 2020 [15 favorites]

on reflection I'ma take out the "middle-aged white lady" part; I put it in to get across the point that the stereotype that centrism particularly appeals to white suburban women is baloney, but it seems gratuitous and possibly a little racist now that I think about it.
posted by daisystomper at 9:51 PM on November 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am going to revisit this thread when I have a draft of a letter I'd like to send about the internment camps at the border. I need to do more research to figure out who to write to and where to send money.

All suggestions welcome.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:46 AM on November 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Do they read long letters? Aren't they going to skim it to see who is for or against what? My instinct would be to write two or three simple sentences that I know someone will have time to read. "I have lived in [X] all my life and (so far, anyway) I have always voted Democrat. But I am strongly against [Y]. Please do not vote in favor of [Y]."

I'm picturing interns in some senator's office getting a never-ending stream of mail and calls and trying to parse sensible data from it all to enter into the senator's constituent-management system so the senator can see, for example, that on question A their constituents are 75 percent Yes and 25 percent No.
posted by pracowity at 6:57 AM on November 9, 2020 [7 favorites]

Dear TJ Cox,

Make your people stop soliciting funds for a Kern County recount, this is a gross misrepresentation of fact. There will not be a recount, since there are so many votes they haven't even counted the first ones. Your people's job is to make sure the count proceeds and is honest, and gets done, no averaging, every vote counts. They still have 150,000 votes to count.

M. Dayle Record Democrat, Candidate KHSD Trustee 2
posted by Oyéah at 8:27 AM on November 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

My Republican rep just got elected to his second term - Pete Stauber MN-08. In his first term, I sent him about 8 notes and I got maybe 4 responses. Each one was simply him telling me his views on the issue (whether or not they matched mine). I know I still need to keep on him, but it is hard to see anything changing. I was happy to see he claims to be on my side when it comes to the Post Office and the need to support it.
I feel like 8 times in two years is not enough, and I should increase it. My two D senators are usually voting exactly as I want, but I need to keep on them as well.
posted by soelo at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I sent short thank-you notes to Reps Tlaib and Omar and Stacey Abrams Saturday morning. Thanked them and their teams for the turnout. I am a selfishly hoping for a Tlaib sticker (have an Omar one) in return.
posted by GamblingBlues at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine needed to get out of her apartment lease because of harassment and threats of violence, and her apartment management company wouldn't let her out of her lease, because Iowa has some of the worst tenant protection laws in the country. (And because of covid, and because living in a college town means you can't get a lease that doesn't start in August, she would certainly have been on the hook for another 10 or 11 months of paying rent.)

So the last letters I wrote were to my congresswoman (who, alas, didn't get re-elected. Not that she was a particularly effective Democrat but she was a Democrat) to say that we need stronger national domestic violence protections, like they have in some states for people who need to get out of their leases for such reasons. Didn't hear back.
posted by Jeanne at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2020

I, too, have shouted into the void.
posted by aniola at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Dear Cory Gardner,

Suck it.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:47 PM on November 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

(Sorry, I realize this isn't the WOOOOOO thread but that absolutely useless shit filled burning paper bag of a lame duck senator had the nerve to spew meaningless drivel about the federal pandemic response to my FACE at my WORK two days before my grandfather caught COVID and died and I hope he goes back to his hometown and feels ashamed and never reenters the political arena even though he fucking won't.)
posted by deludingmyself at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I sent Ted Cruz an impassioned e-mail about Trump putting people that look just like him in inhumane conditions (kids in cages, separated from family), he just added me to "The Cruz News" newsletter he had.

Cornyn was no better.

I am finding my time (and money) far better spent working on getting people like them out of office instead of shifting their Overton window.

I'll still go after a Feinstein or someone if they are just out of whack with where the Dem party is going. But, geez, there are so many races that take I might hopefully could have more impact on.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 8:34 PM on November 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mine from a couple of weeks ago is a long one, will smallen it

Dear [Tory MP]

We corresponded in 2015 about child poverty and the increasing use of food banks, and then again earlier this year about the effect of the closure of schools on children in need. I know you are concerned about this; you told me in June that you were disappointed with the government's decision to continue school closures. I know also that you have put a lot of work into raising aspirations locally. Until March this year I was a school governor and I'm grateful for the input you gave my school, talking to children and giving them a tour of the House of Commons.

Given your concern about outcomes for children, I was surprised to see that you abstained from voting on the recent Opposition Day motion to extend free school meal provision during the holidays (though glad to see you did not vote against it like most of your fellow Conservative MPs). Your administration has already extended FSM to children not in receipt of public funds, which is a really positive move. It is hard to see any ethical reason not to extend FSM provision over the holidays at this uniquely challenging time. You will have seen the papers provided to the House as preparation for the debate and seen that the first part of the independent report commissioned by the Government and published in July this year identifies the increased demand on food banks during the summer holidays. I expect you have also seen the letter from the Children's Commissioner in June this year saying that

"A free school meal is the last line of defence against poverty and hunger for children. When everything else fails, when there are problems accessing universal credit, or families are verging on the edge of crisis, a school meal is the most basic level of subsistence we provide to our children. At a time when more families are facing pressures than ever before, and so many other sources of support are behind closed doors, the decision not to continue free school meals over the summer holidays appears uncaring and lacking in compassion."

The children in need statistics for [my city] for 2018 show a significant gap in attainment between children in need and their peers - 34% of children in need in [my city] attained the expected standard at KS2, compared to 66% of all children in [my city]. Of course hunger is not the only reason for this but it is a basic factor and one of the easiest to address.

As a consitutent, I urge you to consider your stance on this and to support the extension of FSM during the holidays.

As I said in April, I would also like to see you supporting efforts locally to help schools through the use of volunteers - the publicity around the FSM debate shows that there is a huge amount of goodwill locally for schools, and I think that energy and goodwill could be harnessed to help schools.

Best wishes, and thank you for your work on our behalf.

This relates to the UK debate about free school meals over the holidays - update here.

I kind of feel there must be some evidence about what works in contacting MPs ... long, short, personal, formal, etc etc. Would like to know.
posted by paduasoy at 12:55 AM on November 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Maybe this thread could be for people sharing their letters rather than critiquing other people's, or the idea of letter writing itself? There are thousands of ways to get involved in politics, and there's no reason to say that this is not as useful as some other method, or that shorter letters must work better than long ones, or whatever.
posted by k8lin at 4:29 AM on November 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm borrowing heavily from daisystomper, but with a bit of editing to shorten it and to add facts for my Representative in Arizona. I'll be sending a similar letter to Senator Sinema (but maybe a little harsher because her efforts to appease both sides makes me nervous):

Dear Representative Stanton,
I’m writing to let you know that I believe Representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are being criticized by centrist Democrats, are doing exactly what they were elected to do: represent the political interests of their districts. They were reelected with ample support because their positions are what their constituents want.

According to your website, you have a reputation for working across the isle and being a tireless advocate for Arizonans. Going forward, true advocacy for Arizonans may require that you resist compromising with Republicans or even with ineffective centrists. America needs radical change to combat global warming, our huge economic disparities, and the rapid rise of racist fascism. Democrats, and you as my Representative in congress, must have the courage to fully embrace progressive members and ideology.

I’m asking you to actively take a more progressive stand even though that means Republicans might label you as a socialist or left-wing radical. I will support Progressives in Congress, regardless of the rhetoric and false claims by Trumpists.

I would like a response to this letter at your convenience.

My name and city as listed on my Voter ID
posted by kbar1 at 10:13 AM on November 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

cool beans. I trimmed mine down a bit for sending. :) glad others are finding it useful.
posted by daisystomper at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2020

I couldn't save it because it was a web form and I didn't think ahead. But I sent a letter to Biden, or rather to the Office of the President-elect,* with my congratulations, asking them to secure the transition. I said I "hope and trust" they are already talking to military leaders and other such functionaries; I asked them to address the people about it (although I understood if they could not).

This is probably not that useful, but it was useful to me because I felt that I had Done Something. I may write my red state senators and governor, not because I expect them to listen or even that the pile of Listen To Reason mail will get that high, but more because someone should.

* I feel like a crank addressing a president or a candidate directly, or even a senator, and I want to make it clear I don't expect them to read it. Unless I was dying or a cute child, either one.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:17 PM on November 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Dear County District Supervisor X:

You attributed your recent vote against requiring masks to limit COVID-19 transmission to your concern that such legislation is unenforceable. I disagree completely and think you will ultimately regret that you chose not to do all you could to save lives.

We elect people to public office to make tough decisions on our behalf and to base them on data, not fear of potential litigation or public blowback. By cowering behind the enforcement matter and pretending that businesses can argue with every person who crosses their threshold without a mask, you missed an opportunity to put the weight of the Board of Supervisors behind critical public health practices. In short, your decision was cowardly and you failed your constituents.

Should this matter come up again, I hope you will reconsider and take the difficult but righteous path. Be a leader: the life you save may be your own.

posted by carmicha at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2020 [10 favorites]

I just wrote to my city council representative asking her not to approve a $500,000 increase for more police in Minneapolis. She's the literal worst and has not respected the privacy of her constituents in the past (which is the reason why I've never contacted her before), but this felt important enough to try.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:56 PM on November 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

I wrote to my MP earlier in the year to express disdain at the Dominic Cummings trip to Durham incident. Apparently she shared my disdain but wasn't about to speak up or take any actual action. She is a Tory and one of Boris' nodding dog intake of 2019, in the job merely to say yes to brexit and whatever else Boris puts in front of her. Her predecessor was also useless but at some point showed the slimmest sliver of spine and was pushed out with all the others who felt economic suicide was not a long term strategy for the country.
posted by biffa at 5:47 PM on November 13, 2020

I kind of feel there must be some evidence about what works in contacting MPs ... long, short, personal, formal, etc etc. Would like to know.

I suspect that it varies substantially by MP. It's hard to imagine Jess Phillips MP and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP having the same preferences for constituents' letters. I would say that as long as it's not handwritten and it's less than two A4 pages you shouldn't worry too much about the format and go with what works best.

But TBH the most effect that a single letter is likely to have is if it provides something that can be cited in support of an opinion or cause that the MP already agrees with. Otherwise, I think you're mainly contributing alongside others and numbers are likely to be more persuasive than arguments. Constituents' letters almost certainly contributed to shifting MPs views on FSMs, but more in terms of 'this makes us unpopular for little benefit' than 'this is a really persuasive argument'. The persuasive arguments are helpful in that they can be quoted and get you categorised as not a crank.

Other than your own MP, and government ministers, it might be worth contacting people on the various select committees, if the topic is something relevant to that committee. Then it has a chance of informing the scrutiny of government ministers, departments and proposed legislation. You can see from Hansard that letters to the relevant committee MPs were cited in the scrutiny of the UK's equal marriage legislation, mainly comments about a number being received that draw attention to a particular point of view.

As an aside, approaching any MP but especially a backbench MP by letter with a casework issue - eg a problem you are having with a central government department - is more effective than I think people realise. In general, it is likely to at least mean that someone else looks at your case again.
posted by plonkee at 1:55 AM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

My 12 yr old kid wrote and sent 3 letters to state and local government reps urging them to start celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day. Scan of the letter on Imgur here.
posted by MiraK at 7:47 AM on November 15, 2020 [6 favorites]

I sent a letter to MN's governor Tim Walz, who recently greenlighted a horrific pipeline through our state. I'm furious.

Governor Walz,

I know it's too late now, but I am still writing to express my absolute fury that Tim Walz chose to give Enbridge energy everything it wanted. First of all, it's reckless and stupid to allow a company to bring in potentially 1000s of workers from outside our state to spread germs during a pandemic that is already at dangerous levels.

Long term, you certainly know that this pipeline is a disaster. It will make money for Enbridge, not us. It will burn fossil fuels we cannot afford. I hope that every child's fears for their climate future haunt your dreams and your waking hours. This is a betrayal. It's a violation of treaty law that you have no business violating. Our Native neighbors deserve to be able to preserve their right to sovereignty at long last. Instead the Governor struck another blow.

I have been active in politics since before I could vote. I know a thing or two about being disappointed by the lack of courage shown by elected officials - I voted for Barack Obama twice! This is the first time I have seen a political decision that made me want to abandon GOTV work, abandon canvassing, abandon even good candidates and give up entirely. Your base, your voters, did not ask for this pipeline. We've told you our fears for our very lives. You should be utterly ashamed of it.

At least I hope this will disabuse Democratic voters of the notion that voting for a middle ground white man candidate is the safe choice. Erin Murphy would not have pulled this shit on us.

Honestly? Go to hell. You owe your voters, the people of Minnesota, the Native nations who do not consent to this pipeline and children all over a great apology. We won't hold our breath.

Anyway, I will be calling our Attorney General, Keith Ellison, to file a stay of construction on Line 3 and work to repeal Enbridge's permits. his number is 651-296-3353.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:31 AM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

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