Across the nation, members of Congress are seeing what an engaged citizenry looks like: town halls are overflowing, people are voicing their concerns on issues like the ACA and national security, and it's getting national attention.
The reaction to this movement from some members of Congress has been to falsely claim that those attending town halls are "paid protestors" or that town halls are useless, so they're doing "teletown halls" with screened calls instead.
The Congressional Recess is coming up, and we want to track which members of Congress are doing their job and meeting with their constituents and which ones are too cowardly to be held accountable for their records.
ABT'S "REQUEST & PERSIST" CAMPAIGN
Here's this week's action.
1. ABT IS REQUESTING TOWN HALLS: ABT, as a nonpartisan advocacy and educational organization, is formally requesting an in-person town hall/open forum with every member of the Illinois delegation. (If you want ABT to request a town hall in a state other than Illinois, where we are headquartered, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. YOUR REQUEST FOR A CONSTITUENT MEETING: While other groups are rallying people to demand a town hall, the sad fact is that for many members of Congress, these requests will fall on deaf ears. That's why we need you to use a powerful tool in the advocacy arsenal: constituent meetings.
Your member of Congress has an obligation to engage in constituent outreach. They can claim that town halls are "ineffective" (they aren't) but they can't claim you don't have a right to request a small meeting with them. That's why we're launching our "Request & Persist" Campaign:
STEP 1: Call your Representative and Senators and request a constituent meeting (NOT a town hall). If you're in Illinois, click here for phone numbers. If you're not in Illinois, click here to look up your elected's contact information. NOTE: If you don't have luck at their DC number, call a district office (numbers for those are on their websites).
SCRIPT: Hello, my name is X and I am a constituent. I would like to set up a constituent meeting.
At this point, you may receive the following responses (and here are our suggestions for each one)
"The Representative/Senator isn't scheduling any constituent meetings right now." or "You can attend his/her teletown hall online next week"
Response: I simply want the next available in-person constituent meeting slot. I don't mind if it's not next week, or next month, but I request to have one scheduled at their earliest convenience.
"Which group do you represent? How many people will attend?"
Response: I represent myself. I may have a couple other constituents attend as well.
"What topic do you want to discuss?"
Response: There are several items I would like to discuss, obviously most of them dealing with what's been proposed in the current Congress and their previous voting record.
THE KEY IS TO NOT ONLY *REQUEST* A MEETING, BUT TO *PERSIST* IN A POLITE MANNER UNTIL YOU RECEIVE A DATE OR A PROMISE FOR A CALL BACK.
DO NOT HANG UP UNTIL THE STAFFER WRITES DOWN YOUR FULL CONTACT INFORMATION, INCLUDING PHONE NUMBER, AND MAKE SURE TO ASK HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE TO GET A RESPONSE.
STEP 2: Fill out this form with your results. We will be tracking every single request for a constituent meeting. This keeps the process open and transparent. If a Representative declines 50 requests for constituent meetings, what else are they doing with their time out of DC all year? If a Representative declines 1000 requests for constituent meetings, it puts pressure on them to hold a town hall. THE CORE OF THIS STRATEGY IS THAT WE WILL USE THE VOLUME OF REQUESTS TO GAUGE WHETHER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ARE DOING THEIR JOB, AND WE WILL MAKE SURE THE PRESS KNOWS IF THEY AVOIDING THEIR CONSTITUENTS. WE WILL FOLLOW UP WITH YOU TO PERSIST WITH THE REQUEST UNTIL A MEETING IS ON THE BOOKS, EVEN IF IT TAKES WEEKS OR MONTHS.
STEP 3: Before your meeting, ABT will provide its full suite of advocacy, education and research tools. This includes: a one-on-one training with you (via phone or in person) to prepare you for your meeting and do a dry run, research memos on your elected, their positions, etc., talking points for the meeting and more! We'll also coordinate for others to attend the meeting with you if you wish, including Local Chapter leaders and other constituents.