Help me call up my state senators. New Citizen edition.
November 15, 2016 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I actually have what boils down to a two part question. I am a new citizen of the US and want to do what I can to stop the appointment of several members of the new presidential cabinet. It is my understanding that the cabinet has to be OK'd by the senate? If so which senators pass approval the current ones or the newly elected ones?

Once I have determined who to ring what exactly should I say? I want to be succinct & polite as I understand that will be more effective than the stream of swear words and are you fucking kidding mes yelled down the phone that I really want to say.

As someone new to the world of US politics, the citizenship test certainly didn't cover what to do when a puppet & racist wins the presidency, any ideas on some sort of script or what I should say so that I don't sound like a fool or a nut job & increase the chance they'll take me seriously.

Any other advice appreciated.

PS I've read the recent information going around that says it's more effective to ring their home offices rather than the DC offices and I will also send a follow up letter.
posted by wwax to Law & Government (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
melissasaurus has a good script.
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here is what I said. One call went to a voicemail, the other went to a staffer.


My name is AFABulous and I am a constituent of Senator Baldwin's.

I'm calling to express my concerns over Steve Bannon being named a Chief Strategist to the President-Elect and would like to ask if the Senator is planning to condemn his appointment to the White House.

I believe he should be condemned because he has a history of promoting white supremacy and he is supported by the Klan and Nazis. I look forward to a statement from your office.

[if you're leaving a voicemail) My number is blah blah blah. Thank you.


The staffer will just thank you for your call, they won't argue with you or anything like that.
posted by AFABulous at 11:46 AM on November 15, 2016 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks. That's perfect & fast too. I need to hang out on MetaFilter as well as AskMe it seems.
posted by wwax at 11:47 AM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Use a script, even if you write it! I didn't the first time and was a bumbling mess. Also, I was kind of expecting to have to navigate a menu or something and was caught off guard a bit when someone answered quickly.
posted by ghharr at 11:49 AM on November 15, 2016

You also asked who would confirm this, the current Senate or the new one. That would be the new one. If you have a new Senator that just won election, I'm not sure how you'd reach them right now.
posted by advicepig at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2016

Note Chief Strategist does *not* need senatorial approval. Call your senators anyhow, but they can't do much more than condemn.

Cabinet postions (Secretary of Defense, of State, of Education, of Interior; Attorney General; several others I can't recall) *do* require senate confirmation. So it's also worth calling (probably separately, once actual attempts to appoint occur) if any of those candidates turn out to be racist bastards or incompetents.
posted by nat at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Note Chief Strategist does *not* need senatorial approval. Call your senators anyhow, but they can't do much more than condemn.

They can withhold confirmation of other appointees until Bannon is removed.
posted by ghharr at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

They can withhold confirmation of other appointees until Bannon is removed.

he could be "removed" without any diminution of his influence as well . . . but its still worth it to register your assessment that his unfit.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2016

When you're writing your script, mention your status as a new citizen. Your elected officials (and the people answering the phones) may realize that they have a chance to impress you on your first (to their knowledge) civic action and win your vote forever.
posted by Etrigan at 12:22 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

One thing to keep in mind is that the Senate is usually pretty deferential on Cabinet appointments. Democrats will need a few Republicans to defect to block a nomination, and that's probably not going to happen unless the nominee says something really insane or turns out to have a felony murder conviction or something. Nominees *do* get rejected, but it's not super common.

For example, Jeff Sessions is considered likely to be the nominee for Secretary of Defense. Now, Sessions is an awful, awful person with a long history of racism. That said, he was a US Attorney, state Attorney General, US Senator for 20 years, and currently sits on the Armed Services Committee. So, he's pretty likely to get confirmed, especially considering that if he didn't, Trump would probably nominate someone who would advocate a nuclear first strike policy.

In other words - please do contact your Senators to oppose bad nominations. But you may want to consider focusing on the worst of the worst, where's there's at least a chance of torpedoing them.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2016

And if you're looking for a convenient list of the senators and reps from MA and WA, their phone numbers, whether or not they have denounced Steve Bannon, the white supremacist, racist, antisemitic man tapped for Chief Strategist, you can find it here.

And if you build the same information for your state in a Google sheet, memail me a link to a sheet and I will add it in.
posted by plinth at 12:47 PM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

FYI - with the help of a few more people, I'm expanding the table of government contacts and their (non)responses to Bannon to include the entire country.
posted by plinth at 5:04 PM on November 15, 2016

Definitely use a script, the one linked above is fine. I would like to really encourage you to go through with this - the first time is scary but after the second or third you get on an adrenaline high and it feels great. People in my state have been ringing our legislators' phones off the hook and it feels good to be a part of it.

Call your republicans as well as your democrats. Tell them that Bannon's white nationalist views are incompatible with core Republican principles. You don't have to tell them your own party affiliation.

Since legislators can only informally disapprove of Bannin, rather than voting, call your representatives as well as your senators. Also call speaker of the house Paul Ryan and leave him a voicemail. (His mailbox has been intermittently full but it has been getting emptied.)
posted by telepanda at 5:26 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's another set of scripts, broken down by issue and adjusted depending on whether you're calling a representative likely to be already sympathetic.
posted by caek at 7:28 PM on November 16, 2016

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