Have you ever been called on the phone or stopped on the street to participate in a poll? Me neither. I hear about them all the time and sometimes I’m pleased with what they say, sometimes I’m not. I do, however, often think; I wish someone had asked me.
Many of us feel we have something to offer to the political discourse. Any number of issues are controversial enough to require constant monitoring of shifting opinions. Climate change is not at the top of this list but much has happened in this past year, the Climate Conference in Paris (COP21) coupled with an exceptionally warm winter (it’s not El Nino) , has people talking. Legislators need to hear what’s on our minds.
How to do we express our opinions if not through a poll? Easy, contact your legislator. You don’t need to wait years to express yourself with your vote. If they don’t call you, you call them. It’s free, it’s your right and with technology today, it’s easy.
My voice won’t make a difference, you say. Let’s look at that. Yes, you are only one of millions of Americans but when contacting a member of Congress, they represent hundreds of thousands, not millions. And, the percentage of people who actually will take the time to express their opinion is very low, making the pool of constituents they actually hear from very small.
Moreover, polls are expensive. If members of Congress can get a sense of what their constituents care about without spending money, they will do so.
Legislators care only about money, you say, and not my opinion. It is true that money is big in politics and the Citizen’s United case has made things infinitely worse. However, most of the money is needed for television and radio ads. This way of getting a message out will be valid for a while but do your kids sit through ads on TV? Mine don’t. In fact, if my kids (ages 19 and 17) are in front of the TV at all, they’re watching Netflix, no ads. My point is that the need for gobs of cash for TV ads is changing and it’s changing the landscape of politics.
Bottom line, legislators still need our votes to get elected. They also need to know what we care about. Those of us who see climate change as a crisis, for all those we love and cherish, have something urgent to say. Legislators will only act when we are demand action. Why are we being so shy?