Opinions - Does writing a letter to your political representatives do any good?

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by thegoodfight, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. thegoodfight

    thegoodfight Newbie

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    How many of you have ever wanted to write a letter to your Congressman, Senator, Local gov official, or even a company. Well I know that I have been so pissed about something every now and then that I actually do write a letter to the appropriate representative.

    I have always wondered if these actually do any good. I'm guessing that it might be possible to open a politician's eyes to another view point, but that may be wishful thinking.

    Anyway, here are my questions on other members points of view on "writing letters"; I would have made a poll, but there wasn't an option on my posting.?.


    -Have you ever written a letter to a government official, stating concern or interest in a specific topic?
    -Did you get a response from that letter? Was the response a "form letter" or a standardized response?
    -Would you write more letters if you had pre-written form letters that you could modify to fit your needs?



    I was looking for sites that had pre-written letters that could be used as-is or as a guideline for formating. I figured this would be helpful for may people who did not want to spend the time writing a letter "from scratch" or who felt uncomfortable doing so.



    I know that I would probably send more letters if I knew that: they would be read; possibly influence decisions in ANY way; opened anyones mind to another point of view.

    If a site were available the contained the following would one use it?
    -Letters voicing concern on issues such as: drug-reform, education concerns, pro life/choice, corperate fraud, etc. there are an endless number of issues to discuss. These would be pre-written form letters that the user could modify, to fit their viewpoint, if they wish. If they agree with the letter, it could be submitted as is..
    -Listings of public officials,ofice term, election dates, addresses, phone #
    -the public official's voting record
    -current issues being discussed
    -record of past letters submitted to office/official (brief summary of letter)
    -Officials current stance on issues.
    -Discussion forum
    ***More services to be added as they come up***



    Would you use something like this?
     
  2. biglifter56

    biglifter56 Newbie

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    Re: Writie a letter!! Speak up, be heard!

    i wrote a letter about the UGIA(unlawful gameing internet act). i pretty much got a reply saying"thank you for your intrest in the online poker bill, your side has been noted, and we will be sure to keep you updated on this topic." it was a bunch of bs, especially because it passed, and i will soon have to find a real job i guess...
     
  3. biglifter56

    biglifter56 Newbie

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    Re: Writie a letter!! Speak up, be heard!

    "-Would you write more letters if you had pre-written form letters that you could modify to fit your needs?"


    probably, im pretty bad and lazy at writing.
     
  4. ~lostgurl~

    ~lostgurl~ Platinum Member & Advisor Donating Member

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    Re: Writie a letter!! Speak up, be heard!

    This link in the file archive talks about writing to congress, there is a site mentioned in the clip that has pre-written letters, it also states that each letter sent is considered the view of 13,000 people. They figure that for every person that writes to congress, there are 13,000 people that think the same thing but are just to lazy, busy etc to write. (thats in the US anyway) That's a pretty powerful letter.

    https://drugs-forum.com/forum/local_links.php?action=jump&id=1496&catid=43

    It does state however that the letter should be electronic if you want it to actually get there!
     
  5. zera

    zera Gold Member

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    Re: Writie a letter!! Speak up, be heard!

    Public policy theory dictates that politicians will only respond to a) votes, or b) money. In America's winner take all system any opinion held in a small minority has absolutely no political traction (unless the minority cares far more about the issue than the majority, which is not true for drugs, both sides care very much). In Europe this is different due to proportional representation, but in America there is not a single congressional district where there is any conceivable chance that supporting drug decriminilization will result in net votes, not even close. Consequently politicians know this and have absolutely no reason to respond no matter how many letters you write. As for money, pro drug decriminilization supporters are very disperse and unorganized, far more so than anti-drug organizations and have no money or media capital to offer either.

    As bad as it sounds Congressmen do not listen to their conscious, they do what it takes to get re-elected and no matter how eloquent and convincing your letter is it won't phase them, because in their political calculus any approach that appears soft on drugs is never going to help you get re-elected.

    Your effort would be far better targetted at trying to sway public opinion towards the liberalization camp. Instead of writing letters, learn and understand the issues, the arguments and counter-arguments and engage every single prohibitionist you meet in debate.
     
  6. Bajeda

    Bajeda Super Moderator Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Re: Writie a letter!! Speak up, be heard!

    The threadstarter's post wasn't necessarily directed towards issues of drug prohibition. Its about voicing your views to the people who are supposed to represent you and trying to be heard.

    Congressmen do need to maintain their financial support and try to posistion their views on policy to get the most votes in their electorate, but that doesn't mean they can just ignore constituents who hold different views. I've seen firsthand from my parents what correspondence and communication with elected members of the government can do. Huge policy changes derived from a few citizens' letters aren't really feasible, but that doesn't mean representatives can't act at all when something is brought to their attention.



    Don't have time to elaborate on this really at the moment, but if there are any American university students who want to increase their participation in the democratic processes of the country they should take a look at the Roosevelt Institution. "The Roosevelt Institution is a national network of student think tanks providing the organizational infrastructure to get student ideas into the public discourse." Its a good way to think about public policy in the US and organize your ideas, and you can develop an understanding of how you can voice your views on policy to a wider audience. Check www.rooseveltinstitution.org for more information.

    Remember, while congressmen and senators have alot of big supporters they have to keep in mind while making decisions, they are representatives of the people, both their constituency and citizens of the country in general. Don't just assume that because you are a single individual you can't voice your opinions to people in power.