Years ago, congressional offices could be impressed by an organized flood of handcrafted, personalized letters from their constituents. However, as technology has advanced, congressional offices have become quite efficient in deflecting grassroots letter writing efforts. Their most potent tactic has been the dreaded form letter response that simply restates the issue or the general description of what is in the pertinent bill without giving a definitive answer; then closes with the dismissive, "Thank you for sharing your views with me. I will keep them in mind...."
These days, it no longer makes sense to ask 100 people to write their congressman only to receive 100 copies of the same form letter back in response. When that happens, letter writers quickly become discouraged. There is a better way!
First let's recap:
Of an original 100 letter writers who receive a dismissive response from their representative, perhaps some 10 persistent writers might attempt a follow up letter. In many cases the response to their second letter is the same or slightly modified version of the first dismissive form letter. Often, perhaps only one dedicated letter writer might still be willing to press on with a third letter to their evasive or unswayed congressman.
With time, the congressional office observes a pattern stemming from the outdated letter writing campaign system — first 100 letters, then 10 letters, then 1 letter on the key issue. The congressman's letter response system is working! The grassroots commitment to the issue is perceived as shallow and easily abated by nothing more than a form letter of no substance from a junior staffer.
Many Americans feel like Congress has become unassailable, that we, the constituents, are no longer heard. We've become victims of what could be called the 100-10-1 trap of contacting Congress.
The 1-10-100 program turns the current system on its head and gives the advantage back to average citizens. It reminds Congress that there are still people in America who demand representative government.
It often requires only one letter (or phone call) from a single person to obtain that first "thank you for sharing your views with me" form letter. This conserves the efforts of 99 other letter writers who can wait in reserve for a time when their letters can have the most effect.
To leverage the minor effort it took to receive this first response from a congressman, the letter (or e-mail) should be uploaded to our new Letters From Congress "shelf" located on the public site Scribd.com. (Think of Scribd.com as the "YouTube" for documents. Users can post letters along with commentary and recommendations for further action. They can also start discussion topics to help move a particular national or statewide letter writing campaign forward. Those who join the Letters From Congress "shelf" can also receive email updates from Letters From Congress when urgent action is required.)
Once the congressman's own words are posted at Letters From Congress, it becomes much easier to entice 10 other people to write a follow-up letter to the congressman's first response. These 10 people can then spend their time effectively by noting that they have already seen the congressman's first letter on the issue and, therefore, they do not need a copy of the existing form letter as their reply. Immediately, congressmen and their staffs will learn that their position is being read and freely distributed among their constituency. Suddenly, what Congressmen are saying, or not saying, to their constituents becomes important again.
When the second response on the issue is received from the congressional office, it should also be posted at Letters From Congress. (Note: Be sure to include the congressman's name and the letter topic in the document file title you upload. This will allow others to easily access the congressman's letters on the issue by simply using the built-in search feature on the Scribd.com site. It will also help cut down on the posting of redundant letters.) When additional letters are necessary to gain the desired result, the 10 letter writers can be expanded to 100 and beyond by simply forwarding to others the links to the congressman's own letters already posted in our growing public domain.
Now the congressional office has a serious problem on their hands if they continue to ignore voters. The 100-10-1 trap has become 1-10-100 program! Things are moving in the wrong direction for the congressmen! The power of technology is now being used to gain back the representation expected from elected officials operating under the Constitution of the United States.
Visit Letters From Congress on Scribd.com now. It will only take you a few minutes to recognize how easy it has become to leverage the power of action.
Important Note: Don't forget that the 1-10-100 program also works when encouraging and supporting congressmen for their views and positions.