This week we are going to begin participating in a tradition as old as the republic- writing a letters to our elected representative. We are not sending an email, or an electronic petition, or a form letter signed on the street, but rather a real letter, with stamps and everything. There is general consensus that elected officials and their staffs are more likely to respond to snail mail, probably because the extra effort that goes into sending a letter demonstrates a more intense commitment to an issue than an email.
Our first set of letters will deal with the issue of campaign finance reform. Some progressives will dislike the idea of focusing critical energy on people like Jerrold Nadler (the recipient of our first letter). After all, isn’t he one of the good guys? But these letters are not intended to be adversarial, and as an important Congressman from Manhattan and Brooklyn, Mr. Nadler seems like a perfectly appropriate official to send our questions to. Furthermore, if a self-described liberal with little election opposition cannot practice sound fundraising practices, who in this Washington climate can? The first letter, dealing with some of Mr. Nadler’s major donors, will be sent tomorrow, at which point its contents will be posted on the website. We will also post any response his office sends us.
The Bull Moose Movement’s main goal is increasing civic engagement, and not focusing on the top-down model of elections and advocacy for specific bills. However, if indeed letters are a more substantive way to engage elected officials than other approaches, that is a worthwhile tool to pass on to people looking to advocate for themselves and help formulate the policies that will affect their lives. Rather than push for individuals to co-sign pre-written letters, we will push for people to write letters reflecting how they feel about their government’s policies- if the politicians will listen.