When your local representation knows they can afford to ignore you...
June 14, 2021 1:29 PM   Subscribe

How do you bug them to better represent you???

I just learned that the Ohio state house may be hearing 2 bills to prevent so-called critical race theory being taught in the state. I want to let my state rep know that as his constituent I want him to oppose these idiotic measures. But I know he's an asshole and his other constituents seem happy with it.

Our local Dems are pretty exhausted and demoralized, our county went about 75% Trump in November 2020 and many of my neighbors still have their Trump flags flying, literally and (I assume, since I avoid talking politics with almost everyone I meet) figuratively. I know that the changes I want to see are long term fixes, requiring the old Jewish thinking of "it's not your job to finish the work, just to do the work" (and I promise that I am trying to introduce low-key questions in the minds of those I do talk with regularly). How do I apply that thinking to specific laws designed to make the long term even more awful than it is now? Assume I feel similarly about the heartbeat bills, the laws designed to criminalize protests, the laws designed to make it less illegal to run protestors over with your car, the laws about removing public health policy from the purview of the governor, etc. etc.

I have been sending money to people where I can, but a lot of the work I have ended up supporting over the last year is out of state, or at a national level. I am not sure how to amplify my voice in Ohio. It feels really different out here in the country than it does even in Columbus, my closest city, and I can sense the strands of the good ol' boy/evangelical/patriarchal web quivering around me.

I write letters. My state rep has never answered one from me, and neither has fucking Rob Portman unless it's to tell me how good he feels about voting against impeachment, the craven motherfucker.

Please no doomsaying in your replies! I have plenty of that in my own head and find it distressing to read other MeFites express blanket despair. I know we're all in the muck right now.

Also I will never be a phone banker, I want to stay on my keyboard. I am not an introvert but I haaaate cold calling for any reason.
posted by Lawn Beaver to Law & Government (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are there groups protesting in person? Anti-vaxxers in NJ killed a bill last year mainly by showing up and causing a ruckus. They're not a majority, they just made a huge fuss and got their way. Protesting works.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:34 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Take the time you would've spent on persuading your local rep and put it into a local candidate you support. Ideally their replacement. That candidate doesn't necessarily have to win, they just have to present a viable challenge that your existing representative. I'd focus on the state level, as it's where your efforts go farthest. And while I still think it's worth the time on key issues, always remember that rep contacts for or against legislation are largely about numbers, not persuasion (especially with national reps). There's no extra value in crafting your language just so. Better to use that time in other ways to make the world better.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:39 PM on June 14


If it's calling specifically that you have trouble with, what about textbanking?
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 6:11 PM on June 14


If it’s at all possible, get deeply involved in local politics - city council, mayor, alderman, county commissioners, school board etc. get to know who’s running, and how crazy/not they are. Support the Good Ones with your time and money.
It is from these ranks that State reps and congress-critters come, and they can make a much bigger difference in your day-to-day life than the folks on the National stage.
The place to start is with your County Democrats, or even local precinct (find out who your local PCO (precinct officer) is, and get to know them. If that person is “exhausted”, maybe you can energize (or replace) them. New blood really helps. Go to the (sometimes mind-numbingly boring) monthly meetings - you can influence endorsements and policy at such meetings.
This is all much easier is smaller jurisdictions, but it’s where to start to make a difference.
posted by dbmcd at 6:42 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


An experienced activist told me once not to try to convince most people to your way of thinking, but aim to move them closer to it relative to where they are. They might, for example, still be opposed to whatever you're advocating for, but enough less so that they think their opposition instead of acting on it. Or they become convinced open opposition isn't good for them. Or anything in between that and full agreement. This advice was specifically given for fighting a seemingly impossible fight, not for persuading the sympathetic, and it worked (we also got lucky). These things can feel impossible right up until they snowball, you never know.
posted by sepviva at 6:51 PM on June 14 [4 favorites]


SURJ Ohio has been doing some fantastic work in the state. Maybe joining in their work will connect you with like-minded folks.
posted by minervous at 7:53 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


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