What can I do to advance the Democracy Awakening agenda from home?

Whether or not you were able to make it to Washington, D.C. for Democracy Awakening, there are a number of ways you can awaken democracy without leaving your hometown. Here are a few:

Contact Your Members of Congress

Representatives and senators rely on their constituents’ opinions and concerns when formulating positions and voting on legislation. Responding is an integral part of being a member of Congress, and whether they are seen as being responsive can affect how they are viewed by their constituents come Election Day.

Your communication with members of Congress should be concise, informed, and polite. Review the information about what kinds of solutions Democracy Awakening supports, as well as a little bit about the member of Congress you are calling before you contact them. For instance, it can be helpful if you familiarize yourself with their committee assignments and staff. It is important to know something about them before you begin the exchange. A common interest or background can help you stand out.

By Phone

To express your support of the Democracy Awakening with a member of Congress by telephone, call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or use the main number listed for their House or Senate office. Speak to a staff member about your issue or concern; be sure to ask them to pass along your opinion.

Sample phone script:

Hi, my name is ___________ and I am a resident of ______________.

I am calling today because I would like to voice my concern about voter suppression, the influence of big money in politics, and the need to give fair consideration to the president’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. I encourage Senator/Representative ______________ to take action to on the kinds of solutions put forth by the Democracy Awakening happening this weekend in Washington.

Does Rep/Sen support solutions that promote voting rights and money in politics reform? Does the Rep/Sen support fair consideration of the president’s Supreme Court nominee?

(Wait for response)

Please add my name as a constituent and voter who wants to see Rep/Sen____________ support meaningful support for solutions to these problems.

(Give name and contact information)

Thank you for your time.

By Email

Today, many members of Congress encourage their constituents to correspond by email. Although a member occasionally responds via email, more often you will receive an automatic acknowledgement that your message has been received, and then a written response in the mail that addresses the substance of your issue. Email correspondence should address the member as Representative or Senator, and should include your name and address; be sure to type them accurately.

Many members use an online form for email instead of an actual email address. The form is a page on the member’s website that can be filled out and submitted electronically. The form enables the member to capture your name, address, and the subject of your message in a database for future correspondence. Often these forms rely on your zip code, and if you don’t reside in a member’s district or state, you may not be able to submit a message to that member – limiting email to constituents only.

Consult your member’s website for his or her email address or online form URL. Directories are available for the House and Senate.

Get Involved with Local and State Organizing

There are state grassroots coalition listservs where individuals from a variety of groups committing to pass the reforms we advocated for together during Democracy Awakening share campaign updates, action alerts and event information.

Join the list for your state by clicking on your state name and sending an email to the list moderator:

Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Florida
Iowa
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New York
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
Oregon
Texas
West Virginia

A half dozen state lists are still coming online, so if you don’t see you state here, please check back soon!

If you already moderate a democracy advocacy state based list with partner groups for grassroots activists or want to do so – email [email protected] and let us know! Lists should be moderated by multiple groups and focus on or be open to multiple democracy priorities (i.e. both money in politics or voting rights).

Take Action on Social Media

There are several ways people can demonstrate solidarity with the Democracy Awakening using your social media accounts. Sample posts and other ideas included below. Additionally many members of Congress have social media accounts, and tweeting at them or posting on their Facebook walls has the added benefit of being visible to other people. Go to your members’ websites or search Twitter or Facebook for their names, and tweet at them by using their handles – for example, @SenatorJohnSmith – in your tweets. It’s also helpful to search Twitter for your issue or concern to find relevant hashtags or other Twitter accounts – like activists and organizations – that could be included in your tweets. Using hashtags and additional Twitter handles helps raise the visibility of your tweets.

Click here for graphics and sample social media content, and click on the Facebook and Twitter drop-downs below to share some of the Democracy Awakening content already out there.

Photo Petition

A picture can be worth a thousand words, particularly when shared over social media. You can add your name and face to the Democracy Awakening photo petition by downloading and printing this template sign, filling it out, and posting on social media with the hashtag #democracyawakens.

Here are some samples:

da mobilizing ryssa

Democracy Awakens

Democracy Awakens

Democracy Awakens

Democracy Awakens

da mobilizing Mike

Change Your Profile Picture

Check out this link to add a Democracy Awakening overlay to your profile photo and show solidarity for the thousands who are mobilizing to save a runaway democracy.

Write a Letter to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) in response to a story or op-ed that has recently run in a newspaper you read is an effective way of raising awareness about what’s happening with the Democracy Awakening.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Be brief. As a general rule, you will want to keep your LTE under 200 words. However, be sure to review in advance the LTE guidelines of your newspaper of choice to double-check that 200 words is an acceptable length. Generally guidelines are posted online; however you can also find out by calling the newspaper’s office.

2) Be surprising. The best letters to the editor make readers look at an issue in a new way — introduce interesting facts that weren’t in the paper’s coverage of the issue, or look at the same facts from a different angle.

3) Make it local. If you can tie your letter to the editor in to local events or connect it to local personalities, do that. The more you can include local examples in your letter, the more compelling it will be.

4) Be polite. No matter how much you might disagree with the article or point of view to which you’re responding, be respectful — newspapers won’t publish letters they consider rude or insulting.

5) Do not feel obligated to only submit LTEs to large newspapers. Your local paper is a great place to start the discussion. At the same time, do not hesitate to submit to bigger papers even if the chances of acceptance are slimmer.

6) Be sure to include your contact information in your submission. Many newspapers will require their employees to contact LTE authors prior to publication. If you do not feel comfortable sharing your information publicly, be sure to make that stipulation at the bottom of your letter.

Sample LTE (not in attendance at Democracy Awakening)

This weekend thousands of people are converging in Washington, DC, to call for reforms to make our democracy stronger. Activists are rallying, meeting with their representatives, and some are even risking arrest – all to demand that Congress take action to get big money out of politics, protect and expand voting rights, and fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. While I’m not able to join them in person, I could not agree more with these demands. We need a democracy in which every voice can be heard and every vote counts. We need a fully-staffed Supreme Court to rule on some of the most important issues of the day.

Across the political spectrum, Americans agree about the need for these reforms. More than two-thirds of voters support stronger voting protections, roughly the same number of Americans who want the Senate to move forward with considering the president’s Supreme Court nominee. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 85 percent, want an overhaul of our campaign finance system. It’s time for Congress to listen.

Activists are already organizing across the country for these types of reforms, and I’m going to do everything I can here in [city/town] to organize in support of a democracy that works for all of us.

Sample LTE (in attendance at Democracy Awakening)

This weekend I joined with thousands of people in Washington, DC, to call for reforms to make our democracy stronger. We rallied, met with our representatives, and some of us were even arrested – all to demand that Congress take action to get big money out of politics, protect and expand voting rights, and fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Our message was simple: we need a democracy in which every voice can be heard and every vote counts. We need a fully-staffed Supreme Court to rule on some of the most important issues of the day.

Across the political spectrum, Americans agree about the need for these reforms. More than two-thirds of voters support stronger voting protections, roughly the same number of Americans who want the Senate to move forward with considering the president’s Supreme Court nominee. An overwhelming majority of Americans, 85 percent, want an overhaul of our campaign finance system. It’s time for Congress to listen.

Activists are already organizing across the country for these types of reforms, and I’m going to do everything I can in [city/town] to take the energy I felt in Washington, DC and use it to organize here in support of a democracy that works for all of us.