I made 11 phone calls on my lunch break today.
Looking at my call log on my phone, this took 16 minutes, from the first to last call. And since I called for two different issues, it included the time when I was reviewing and coaching myself through the second round of calls before dialing that first number.
I hate the phone. I’ve had jobs for so long where I have make a tremendous number of phone calls, but it doesn’t make it any easier every time I have to dial without knowing what kind of attitude I might be met with on the other end. And even knowing that the people who answer the phones of our elected officials’ offices take hundreds of phone calls a day and aren’t interested in anything other than ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’ I still get nervous. What if they challenge me? What if they ask me something and I don’t know the answer, and I completely discredit myself? What if I say the wrong thing?
The first call I made today was to the chair of the committee overseeing a bill in Virginia that would require employers to allow reasonable time and space for new mothers to express breast milk for the first year of their baby’s life (while, I might add, I was pumping at work!). I stuttered. I said the wrong bill numbers first and had to repeat myself. The woman who answered the phone was very polite, and all she did was thank me, and said they’d had several calls about that coming in and she would be sure to pass my message along.
And that was that.
There are a lot of scripts available for what to say if you want to give more detail, and while those help, they also make me nervous. What has helped me is seeing the tremendous number of people commenting saying they called, saying how quick the process was, saying the person on the other end of the phone was polite, saying they only expressed approval or concern. And it really is that easy. And each time, each day, it takes less time to psych myself into pressing the ‘dial’ button.
But beyond that–call to say thank you, to the reps who have spoken up in agreement with you. Say thank you for staying true to their campaigns, for the reasons you voted for them.
And call the ones you voted for when you DON’T agree. I’ve heard far, far too many people–friends and coworkers and strangers on the internet–say “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative.” And that infuriates me. Because we’ve had a Republican majority congress for years now, and now all three branches of the federal Government are about to be run by the GOP. So if SO MANY PEOPLE really are socially liberal–why aren’t YOU calling? We need you to call and tell your Republican representatives that you voted for them, but you won’t stand for the way their policies treat women. Treat POC. Treat the LGBT+ community. Treat Americans with disabilities. We need more pro-life feminists who can’t bring themselves to vote for a pro-choice candidate to call and demand equal pay for women, and affordable, accessible contraceptives and comprehensive sex ed. For all the talk on divisiveness right now, we are being steamrolled by partisan loyalty in the people that we elect. ELECT. As in, we chose them. And yet, we seem to just accept that horrible social policies must go hand in hand with conservative spending.
Call. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s something that can be done every day, on every issue that you find important.