When it comes to politics and policies on everything from student loans to health care, you might find satisfaction in complaining on Twitter or Facebook.
But there’s a better way to use your time (and your voice): contacting your representatives.
It’s not hard. And it might actually work.
How to contact your representatives
If you want to share your opinion about an issue or a piece of legislation, here are three easy steps to follow.
1. Find out who your representatives are
The first step is determining who you’re going to call (and this time, the answer isn’t Ghostbusters).
You’re free to contact any politician you want, but your opinion is likely to matter only to your representatives.
Luckily, the internet has made it easy to find them.
When you type in your address on Call Your Rep, the site pulls up the names and contact information of your representatives. If you’re using the mobile site, there also will be a button you can click to call them directly.
If you have time to contact only one person, some say your congressperson is the best choice.
“Because your congressional rep serves fewer constituents than a senator, a call to your rep is more likely to be answered and carries more relative weight,” explained Call to Action, a website that shares congressional contact information.
Even less inundated are your local and state representatives, whom you can find on Open States. (Be aware they won’t have influence over national legislation, though.)
2. Pick up the phone
Although you might be tempted to send an email, congressional staffers say calling is more effective.
“It brings a legislative issue right to the top of the mind of a member,” former staffer Emily Ellsworth told The New York Times. “It makes it impossible to ignore.”
Ellsworth also said sharing personal stories is a smart strategy, as they have the ability to stick in a staffer’s mind — and potentially get passed on to a representative. Keep your statement brief and respectful, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you’re nervous, look for an easy script you can follow — like this one from Call to Action: “Hi, my name is [your name], and I’m a constituent from [your town/city]. I’m calling because [express your opinion on an issue here]. Please tell [rep name] to [support/oppose/speak out against] [your issue]. Thank you for your time.”
Once you get comfortable, you can add more details about why the issue matters to you personally.
For more in-depth strategies, check out this primer from Ellsworth:
3. Track the issues
Activism isn’t a once-and-done kind of thing. If you want your representatives to represent your interests, you need to continually remind them what those interests are.
To stay on top of the news, you can set up a Google Alert for issues or bills that matter to you and sign up for emails and updates from your representatives.
There are several tools designed to help you speak your mind, including the following:
- 5 Calls: This app highlights the most important issues happening right now — to ensure you call when it counts.
- Countable: Within this comprehensive app, you can track issues and bills, monitor how your representatives voted on certain issues, and even call them directly.
- Daily Action: Sign up for a daily text message that prompts you to call your representatives.
Lastly, you can speak up in person by attending a town hall event.
“There is no better way to influence your representatives than in-person conversations,” explained Town Hall Project, which lists upcoming events. “Town halls are a longstanding American tradition — where our elected representatives must listen and respond to the concerns of their constituents. Remember: You are their boss.”
Help your reps help you. Congress could, for example, aid student loan borrowers — but only if it knows the issue is important to you. By speaking up, you could encourage changes that have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others.
So stay informed, stay passionate, and stay loud.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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