There are a number of sites and services that attempt to make it easy to write to or petition elected officials. Petitions are especially popular and they can be very effective for certain purposes. However, among other shortcomings, there’s no persistence to petitions; they’re presented to the intended recipients just once. The petitioners have to hope that the day of presentation isn’t a busy one for the recipient.
There are also some sites that enable users to write to their own representatives, and only their own representatives. This reflects the fact that Congressional offices are focused on their constituents first and foremost. Everything else is noise. This approach makes a lot of sense for Congress; the problem is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the rest of us.
At the federal level, we’re all represented by all 535 members of Congress. Regardless of where you stand politically or where you live geographically, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner both represent you. Every representative’s vote counts equally. At One Click Politics, we think every American should be able to communicate with anyone in Congress, regardless of where he or she lives.
Consider two examples. First, imagine that you are represented by a freshman in the minority party. She has no seniority and wasn’t given a choice committee assignment. Is it equitable for you to have less say in Congress as a result? Second, imagine that there is an issue that you care deeply about and a bill affecting that issue is in committee for a vote but neither your Representatives, nor your two Senators, sit on that committee. Is it fair that your voice can’t be heard as a result?
We also believe that you should be able to write about whatever issues you care about, not just about currently pending legislation. There is one really good site that has a lot to offer. However, they embrace a very different philosophy. Their approach is to translate “your message in the language of Congress”. We believe that instead of using technology to make Americans communicate differently, we should use technology to make Congress listen differently. (This isn’t meant to disparage the other site; they do an excellent job at pursuing a slightly different goal than One Click Politics is.)
So how will your message to a Representative other than your own make a difference? It’s a matter of volume and metrics. As our site grows and the numbers of sends of particular messages increase, the statistical data available from those messages will become increasingly valuable for Representatives and Senators trying to better understand larger trends. At the same time, messages from constituents receive special treatment when sent via One Click Politics, ensuring that Congressional offices can separate messages from within their districts and data from outside their districts.
It’s time to embrace an evolution in political participation, but we need your help to do it. Use oneclickpolitics.com (often!) and urge others to do the same. It’s only through the power of numbers that most Americans will be heard in Congress.