And I thought 2016 was bad?
January 4, 2017 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Will you answer another self-care question on avoiding political apathy?

Halp! I don't want to fall into apathy on the political issues facing us, but I don't want to end up with another stroke, either. I've taken many suggestions from Ask already about limiting Facebook clickbait and dramaz, filtering news, etc., which has helped.

Two years ago I had a stroke that affected my speech and language processing. I was so so so lucky that much of my capability has returned, but I can see, hear, and feel the loss, and it upsets me. It's worse under stress. I also develop Afib under stress, and that worsens the language issue. Those of you that posted scripts to work from in the Goodlatte amendment post, thank you! Extremely helpful, but even with a script, I find it hard to verbalize.

After yesterday's disgusting mess with the Goodlatte amendment, I'm just dreading future fights on other issues. I'm concerned I won't be able to participate in the process. As I commented in the the post live, many of the links to email or phone numbers weren't working, and finally when I did track down numbers, email couldn't be delivered or the lines were tied up. (which is a good thing!) I finally got through by phone within minutes of the news being posted that the amendment had been withdrawn. Several responses were satisfactory, although I found it stressful to initiate them, but a couple rude/dismissive ones had me extremely upset by the time I hung up.

By the time I was done with calls, I was in Afib, shaking, angry, nearly in tears, and not able to focus on an important personal (also stressful) 'thing' that needed to be done yesterday. I can't do this again.

I know calls are the best way to respond, but at this point, I can't/won't do it. What I feel I can contribute is text messages to whoever would be best contact points on various issues. My google-fu is failing me--can anyone tell me if it's possible to access my Idaho representatives offices via text? What about federal offices? Having time to compose a statement at some remove would be much less stressful. I was just furious when I asked during one call if they received texts. I was told that they don't have time to answer texts, which is not what I asked, I asked if they had text reception available for my input. They hung up without answering yay or nay. Jerks.

I don't tweet, but would that be a valid contribution? I suppose I could learn to do it if DT can.
posted by BlueHorse to Law & Government (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I can't address texting or tweeting but perhaps it be possible to have someone call for you, maybe saying something like "This is XX and I'm calling on behalf of BlueHorse who has speech issues that make using the phone a challenge. She has asked that I tell you that ..."? If this is something you would like, I would bet that there are many people who would do this for you. In fact, I would be happy to do it. Just let me know.
posted by mcduff at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2017

I have gotten a lot of great advice from AskMetFi about contacting my representatives and encouraged by this I did a little research on my own, what I have learned is if you can't call, then write letters. Yes old fashioned snail mail letters, while they may not get quite the same weight as a phone call from what I have read they still get a lot more weight than an email or text or tweet, and really it's the same principle putting your thoughts in writing. You will also have time to sit & think about what you want to write & write a draft or 2 so you feel confident & not as stressed as you mail t.

This is the sample letter I use as a framework. There are plenty of others out there if you google if you don't like that one.

I have gotten in the habit of sending off one letter a week to different representatives & find the more times I do it the less stressed I get.

I fully understand your anxiety & stress when on the phone I suffer from anxiety & have an accent some Americans seem to find hard to understand on the phone(I'm Australian for goodness sake surely people in Indianapolis have heard an Australian accent before?!?!?!?!) so my first attempt at calling was not a success and I actually cried afterwards.
posted by wwax at 12:29 PM on January 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe trying to act on a federal level is more than what is possible for you right now. It's important work, and it is vital that those who can do it. But I think your body is telling you that you can't.

Would it be less stressful to be more involved on a local level? And instead of fighting, doing more of sustaining the good works that people in your community are doing already?

For example, I live in a community that is very close to where an unarmed black man was shot. It technically wasn't actually my city, but its a short walk from the city limits, and a short bicycle ride from my house. A pair of women in the community who had previously started a community activism group refocused it towards running events that brought people together to talk about issues of race and diversity in the community (check memail for link, rather not post the name of my particular city here). They've managed to bring the Mayor and Chief of Police into constructive conversations with residents in ways that were unlikely via official channels and my city is a better place for the work that they do.

Who is working to make the city where you live a better place? How can you do a little bit to help them everyday, instead of rushing to the call to battle every time evil strikes?

Even on a statewide, or national level, can you get into a regular volunteer gig that does some of the boring, but necessary work to keep the wheels of progressivism turning even when democracy isn't under threat?
posted by sparklemotion at 12:31 PM on January 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Writing letters is a perfectly valid action. You might also look for support actions--volunteering with a local or national organization that addresses particular issues that you are interested in and may need less high-pressure help. Honestly, at this point, anything you do to help maintain the fabric of American society and our capacity to take care of each other is a big thumb in the eye to Trump and his goons.

I mean, I'm already giving side-eyes to slackers, but putting yourself in the hospital over this will help nobody. You can only do what you have the physical endurance to do.
posted by praemunire at 12:47 PM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

The most important thing is: don't sweat it. Contacting officials is like voting; your personal action is not super important; what is important is that thousands of people do. Your calls or letters only matter insofar as you become one of 1254 people who called for or against whatever; you're not trying to actually convince anyone of anything.

So... if calling stresses you, don't do it.

Honestly, if you want to know that you're active and making a real difference, just set up an automatic $5/month to some group you like -- NAACP or SPLC or DCCC/DSCC or whatever. This will make more difference than calling your MCs' offices anyway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:24 PM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

You could use a relay service to translate text to speech. I had a shitty boyfriend use one when he 'couldn't get to a phone', but such difficulty and health risk to speaking is a totally legit reason.
posted by politikitty at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2017

Some excellent things to consider here.

I'd would still appreciate it if the issue of texting or tweeting is a possibility.

The Ethics office situation called for an immediate response where a letter would have been useless within the workable time frame.

Wwax, can you enlarge a bit on your letter writing? Do you address only your representatives, or do you address those proposing specific bills, also?
posted by BlueHorse at 3:46 PM on January 4, 2017

What about sending faxes? It has the immediacy of a phone call, which is critical for urgent issues, but without the need to verbalize. Every one of your rep's offices has a fax line.

I have been faxing my reps in the past few weeks during those times when I have been unable to make calls for anxiety-related reasons. (I've also called after hours and left voice mail messages for reps who make that option available.) I use the Jot-to-Fax app, which lets you fax PDFs. Each fax page costs slightly more than a stamp. (Or if anyone has a better option for a cheap-to-free online fax service, that would be awesome!)
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2017

Want to fax your elected officials?

FaxZero lets you send five free faxes a day, with direct links for faxing your congressperson, senator, or even governor. (You can even see who's gotten the most faxes from them recently.)
posted by kristi at 5:37 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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