Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
There are several traditional methods of communicating to your elected representatives, including signing petitions, sending emails, phoning, sending postcards, visiting your congresspeople and talking to their aides either locally or in Washington DC, letters to the editor town hall meetings for anyone but Cory Gardner, and more. But there is a new method I’d like to talk about today, and that is social media.
Social media is addictive, as many of us know. Even if we keep it under control, we all have friends and family members who send us four or five posts a day! It’s common for us to look for that little reward we get, that tiny psychological boost of endorphins we get by being liked. Well, guess what.
Politicians are human beings too, and often they are driven by the need to be noticed and responded to even more than the rest of us. And every major politician has an active Facebook page and/or Twitter feed. They can send out information about their latest visit with a veteran’s group, or the tour of a family farm in some rural area. They put out pictures of their kids and grandkids to show they are good family men and women. Now, I have made over a dozen visits to congressional offices this year.
I always see an aide, and usually they say they will pass on my information to the congressperson or senator. It’s a one-way communication. I rarely get anything more than a boilerplate letter in response. I know these visits are not useless, but I know that the aides and handlers are running all of our communications through filters. Senator Cory Gardner probably has the most filters of any of our Congresspeople, and right now he is deciding the fate of 1/6 of the US economy and the lives and health and financial foundations of tens millions of Americans as he and a handful of other Republican Senators decide the fate of our healthcare system. But, in spite of the advice of his handlers, he keeps on reading the many Facebook comments people write in response to anything he posts. Many of them are insulting and crude, but many more are thoughtful and make important points. When Gardner posts family pictures, people will tell him things like, “I know you love your family, and I’m glad they all have good healthcare. Please be sure all of us can get the kind of care for our loved ones your family currently enjoys.”
It appears to be a way to directly communicate with our Congresspeople even when they slam the door shut on Town Hall meetings. For that matter, Donald Trump often bans Tweeters on his Twitter account, so you he reads at least some of his Twitter reactions. Melanie and Ivanka have their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Some people are liking and following the entire Trump family so they can let their voices be heard in this way. If you’d like to share your healthcare ideas with Senator Cory Gardner, or communicate directly with Donald Trump, liking and following these people on social media may be a new avenue of direct communication.