Civic Engagement: How to Contact Your Representative and Why You Should
December 28, 2022
The Power of Action
Contacting one’s congressional representatives plays a crucial role in the democratic process as members of Congress rely on their constituents to make important policy decisions. The majority of Americans underestimate the power that reaching out to their representative has because they feel incapable of persuading them to act on a particular issue. However, youth-led advocacy organizations such as “Gen-Z for Change” have proved how simply using social media as an outlet for contacting a Congressional representative holds power to push specific topics onto the national agenda. For example, direct messaging or tagging a House member or senator in a post enables people to express their concerns to their representative; however, this tactic would work better for members of the House as they oversee a smaller constituency.
A growing number of advocacy groups have also facilitated the connection between individuals and Congress by providing writing templates for digital letters sent to Congress. Although other methods such as writing physical letters to Congressional members prove just as effective, social media and digital letters are more efficient means of communication. Additionally, calling one’s district congressional office creates a direct line of communication with staff members working for a Congressional representative. District offices serve important functions as they provide constituents with services and offer assistance on a variety of issues. Nearly all members of Congress have a website where their constituents can find a phone number or email address to contact the representative’s office. Although many Americans might feel incapable of catching the attention of their representatives, interest groups provide another access point for everyday people to voice their concerns.
For instance, 19-year-old abortion rights activist Olivia Julianna expressed her concerns about the reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision by encouraging members of Congress to recognize the major threat to the right to privacy. While Julianna held more influence compared to the everyday person as the leader of the organization “Gen-Z for Change,” by utilizing her platform, she took the grievances of young people and captured the attention of many members of Congress. In the end, the young activist raised millions of dollars for abortion funds, positively impacting the lives of those who felt hopeless following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Through technology and interest groups, young people now have several avenues to contact their local or federal representatives, making the desire for change a reality.