To the Editor:
Thank you for devoting six full paragraphs in your Oct. 9 article “Local congressmen standing firm” to a local voter’s story of her effort to have her voice heard by her elected representatives.
As has been made abundantly clear by both the title of your article and by nearly all of the recent polls on the government shutdown, the voice of the voters is not being heard in the halls of the Capitol.
This shutdown was strategically engineered for political effect. Air traffic controllers are still working, our congressmen couldn’t leave themselves stranded in Washington. The Pentagon’s war spending is still funded, but veterans appealing denial of disability benefits will have to wait because the Appeals Board will not issue any decisions during the shutdown.
Lastly, our National Parks are shut down, providing our members of Congress with photo ops berating Park Service employees for complying with the shutdown that the congressmen themselves are responsible for.
I know there are many parents reading the Chronicle who have learned through hard experience to not give in to their children’s tantrums. Give in once to a screaming fit in a store and your child will try it again. Teach your child about asking the right way, about persuasion, about compromise and you’ve better equipped your child to live in the real world. Apparently our two congressmen don’t live in the real world, if they believe the way to change public policy is to hold the nation hostage.
If you believe that Congress should be doing its job, please make your voice heard. The most effective way to do this is through persistent, personal communication. In the unlikely event you can actually meet face-to-face with your representative, you can have the best possible opportunity to be heard. Otherwise, phone calls and postcards are next best because they are so uniquely personal.
Be sure to give your name and city (to ensure they realize you’re in their district) and phone number if you would like a response. Keep your message clear and concise whether over the phone or by mail. Share any personal story of how the shutdown is affecting you, that will make the greatest impact.
Finally, please be patient with the staffer who answers the phone, they are likely working without pay. See the Oct. 9 article, or the Monday Opinions page for your representative’s contact information.