Friday, April 21, 2006


Welcome to yet another installment of "Am I The Only One?"

Today we focus on something I've been wondering for quite a while -

Am I The Only One who still writes to their congressperson?

It seems it's easier than ever these days to write to our elected officials - I know that just about every charity website I check, or every e-newsletter I receive from them, has links for contacting congress. And, if you're not one to check out charities online, you can always get the information yourself, just by entering your zip code here. In addition to the e-mail addresses for your local representation, they can also give you their snail mail addresses & phone numbers (in case you work better that way). So, it's not that difficult to get in touch with them. But I wonder just how many people actually do.

I don't want this to turn into some right-wing/left-wing rant, but I do want to say that it seems to me that only certain people are taking the time to tell their officials what they want them to do. And that the vast majority of "average" Americans (You know, the ones the polls say want something
different the next time around, or that some of our current leaders are WAY off base in their current policies?) just aren't saying much of anything.

Oh, they're complaining to their families, or their friends, or their blogs. But are they telling the people who really need to hear it?

I just don't know.

I live in Massachusetts. It's considered, I think, (by the way I've heard people talk about us on TV and from what I've read about us from outsiders)to be quite liberal. And it mostly is: overall. There are probably more than the average number of liberal minded communities, policies ( Gay marriage anyone?), and politicians (see Frank, Barney or Kennedy, Edward). I went to a liberal college (Ok - liberal may even be understating it a bit), and was both witness & participant to lots of activism on campus.

And now, given my health situation, I don't get out all that much (ok... ever-ish, but still), so I'm sure that things are happening that I'm just not seeing or hearing about, but I still feel there's an overwhelming gap between the changes people want to be made and the effort their willing to make to see that change come about.

One of the issues here is that "average" people - everyday people - have everyday lives. And they spend the majority of their time living them - going to work, feeding their kids, taking out the trash, etc. But, while this argument has some merit, I wonder if it actually holds up against scrutiny. Don't "average" people also spend some of their time watching Friends reruns on TBS? Or playing Grand Theft Auto 3 or Halo on their PSPs? Or downloading another 500 songs onto their IPODs?

(Just a side note here - I had NO idea what the hot computer game is right now. I had to look it up. Seriously. The thing that popped into my head as I was first writing the sentence? Mortal Kombat. Which I never played, but somehow knew it was big. Still - isn't that like 15 years ago now? Sad. )

So, yes, I think, perhaps, they might be able to find a moment or two to write to the people who are in charge of our country, let them know where their going wrong, what they're doing right & what needs to come next. (For example, I am currently downloading music and urging you all to contact your representatives - multitasking rules!)

Another issue is that a lot of people, myself included, sometimes feel that it doesn't matter what they say or who they say it to - things are how they are, and one person's voice isn't really going to count too much. I'll spare you all the "one person, one vote, makes a difference" speech, (even though I mostly try to believe it) since I doubt you've never heard it before. Instead, all I can say is that if it doesn't matter, even if it does turn out to be a huge waste of your time, how are you going to know? It isn't like your congressman is going to write you back and say "Listen: your letter? Yeah, we threw that right in the trash."

And isn't there just enough of a chance that since what you're saying matters to you, and therefore might matter to other people (who also might write in), that it may just have an impact on what happens in our country that you'd be willing to waste the 10 minutes it would take you to point and click your way through an e-mail, or the little bit longer (only one Everybody Loves Raymond episode you've already seen 6 times) it might take you to actually write a letter yourself?

I hope so, b/c it sometimes really does feel like I'm The Only One.

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