Much as I love raising my three children in urban Washington, DC, the suburbs do appeal. But it’s not for the grassy lawns or the ample parking. The number one reason I long to move to Maryland or Virginia is that if I did, I would be able to elect Senators and Representatives with voting power in Congress.
I live in the nation’s capital; I sometimes go to Capitol Hill for my job; I can almost see the Capitol building from my house; and yet I don’t have my own voting members of Congress.
I’m jealous because I’ve learned a lot in my job with Physicians for Social Responsibility, an environmental health group, about how – and why – to advocate for public health issues. So because I can’t do it myself, I am going to pass on a couple of thoughts on the subject. Call it living vicariously.
Politicians Want to be Popular
Elected officials want you to like them. In order to make you like them, they are going to try to do what they think you want them to do. So they are vigilant about listening to their constituents. It is their job to listen to you. It lets them know what you want them to do. They need to hear what you have to say.
The Power of the (Real) Pen
Writing a personal letter to your lawmaker is worthwhile. They read them. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Come on, you remember how to write a letter, right? Especially in the digital age, a handwritten letter is powerful.
You Are a Genuine Lobbyist
Visiting with your lawmaker should not be the province of paid professionals only. Lobbyists get a bad rap, but think of yourself as one. Lobbyists are paid to represent a given group’s interest to elected officials. But you are the genuine representative of your family’s and your community’s best interest. It’s your job to stick up for your family. That genuine voice has power – possibly even more power than the paid voice of a professional lobbyist.
You Don’t Have to Come to DC (But do come sometime! It’s nice here!)
If you think you live too far from my hometown to take on such a project, think again. Your lawmakers have local offices, out of which they work when Congress is not in session. You can ask to visit them there, or invite them to a community event.
Federal Agencies Want to Be Popular, Too
Though they do not get elected to office, the federal agencies that implement our nation’s laws very often solicit feedback on their implementation plans. They want to hear what you think too. The EPA is currently seeking comments on their proposed mercury and air toxics rule, through August 5. This rule would save lives, prevent heart attacks, and prevent asthma attacks by reducing the amount of air pollution that coal plants are allowed to emit. Please, show your support for our children’s health by submitting a comment today. Your voice matters. Even, in this case, if you live in DC.
Finally, join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice!