It’s late July and the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing for August recess. Congressmen and women are headed home to their districts for some one-on-one time reconnecting with constituents.
Make sure you are on their agenda.
I’m always a little shocked when I hear this because it’s never been a part of my personal reality, but the feedback I hear most often after I’ve visited the Hill with farmers is that people are shocked that they can actually sit down with their Congressman and say what’s on their minds. AND THEIR CONGRESSMAN WILL LISTEN.
The sad fact is, the media makes our elected officials out to be monsters sometimes. Yes, some make grave mistakes. Yes, some are in office for the completely wrong reasons. But the vast majority that I have met actually want to serve their districts and are trying to govern and compromise the best that they can.
Your Congressman WILL listen to what you have to say – and making an appointment with him or her when they are back in district for the month of August is the perfect time to make that connection.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CONGRESSIONAL APPOINTMENT
- Call whichever district office for your Congressman is closest to you. Ask when the Congressman will be in and make an appointment.
- Think about your top three concerns. It’s hard to reduce it down to just three, but your meeting will be much more productive if you focus in on just the few most important things.
- Be prepared to talk about your three top priorities and how they are impacting YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR COMMUNITY. Your Congressman is much less interested in talking points, and much more interested in you. The good thing about this one is you don’t have to look up data and statistics if that’s not what you’re good at. You don’t have to flood the Congressman with information or justification about your worry. You simply have to tell him or her that this issue is impacting the health of your family, your family budget, your retirement plan, etc. Information on how much extra the concern could cost your family is relevant, but you really don’t need more data than that!
- When you enter the office, share your name and a business card with the staff that greets you. Grab a business card from the office staff as well.
- When your Congressman is able to sit down with you, share your concerns, be respectful, and be prepared for a conversation. He or she may disagree with the way you’d fix this particular issue and that’s ok. Elected officials are ready to hear from folks with many different viewpoints, and can actually have their minds changed if they hear from enough of their constituents that disagree with their point of view.
- After the visit, email a thank you note to the staff business card you grabbed. Ask the staff to relay your thanks to the Congressman and reiterate your three priorities. Staff are often following issues and briefing the elected official so making sure staff understands your concerns is just as important!
Really, the hardest part is making yourself make that first phone call and scheduling time for an appointment – but having a relationship with your elected official is one of the most important things you can do, and a right that so many in the world don’t have.
Don’t miss August recess! Do this today!
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director