Be a Hero: Influence Your Congressman

It's much simpler than you think, says Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank. "Call your representative and your two senators. I read a variant of every letter that comes in, and I've had legislation that I've passed as a result of things that people brought to my attention. What the representatives are looking for is how strongly you hold your opinion—specifically, to what extent does that opinion influence how you vote? So the less effort you put into it, the less impact you have. If some organization gives you a letter and says, 'Send this letter'—and it can be an eloquent six-page letter—that's much less helpful than you writing your own three-paragraph letter. The most important thing: Call up the office after you've written and say, 'Can I come meet with you?' You don't have to go to Washington. We all have home offices and have meetings with people in our districts. Prove to your rep that you're someone who votes in his or her district and cares about this issue. That's it."

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