Write your elected officials
The Iceberg Phenomenon:
Regardless of the governing body or individual elected official, all governmental leadership understands and gets to know who they represent through the iceberg phenomenon. Our elected officials represent thousands of people. Since they can't get to know all of their constituents, they tend to look at everyone with whom they come in contact as representing "the tip of the iceberg".
For example, if 50 people write a congressman's office asking to vote against an abortion funding initiative, for example, they then reason that there must be hundreds more who feel the same way but just didn't write. As grassroots activists, members of the Christian Coalition of America can parlay the Iceberg Phenomenon into a great opportunity to influence elected leadership! By way of the Christian Coalition we can join with others in a combined grassroots lobbying campaign, and have an impact that can greatly exceed the number of people involved.
The written letter is a tool that can be very effective in voicing your concerns or those of your local chapter. Letters are best sent early on in the lobbying process. They flag important issues for the legislator in advance and provide a written record to review. The printed word enables the legislator to better understand his or her constituents' line of reasoning and to gauge passion. When writing letters to federal officials use the following guidelines:
Addressing correspondence to a Senator:
The Honorable (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Addressing correspondence to a U. S. Representative:
The Honorable (Name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Addressing the chairperson of a committee or the Speaker of the House:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Mr. (or Madam) Speaker:
Here are some tips for effective letter writing:
The main purpose for your letter should be stated in the first paragraph. If you're concerned about a specific piece of legislation, refer to it by name, e.g. "Vote for the Balanced Budget Amendment". It is helpful, but not necessary, to include the actual bill number - Senate bill numbers are identified as "S", and House bills as "H.R.".
- Keep your letters short. There is no reason to go beyond one page.
- Keep your letters focused on one topic. Be concise. Letters that ramble on are discounted (or even thrown away!)
- Remember always to be professional and courteous. Especially in the post-911 atmosphere, it is important to be passionate, but never seem 'angry'. Include any key information that will help support your reasoned and rational position.
- Let them know who you are. Mention upfront that you are a constituent. To be given the attention your letter deserves, it's important to stress that they are your government representation in Washington, D.C..
- Be specific. Discuss specific legislation or steps your elected official can take to combat climate change and let them know you are watching their actions.