Here’s the Best Way to Tell Congress Your Opinion on Syria
House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday said he will support President Barack Obama’s call for the U.S. to take action against Syria for alleged chemical weapons use. Do you agree with him? Tell your congressperson what you think.
On Saturday President Barack Obama announced that he will seek congressional approval for a strategic military strike in Syria. And so the debate begins. Many members of Congress remain undecided on how they will vote and are looking to their constituents for answers. What action do you think they should support? While many remain skeptical of ordinary citizens’ influence inside the Beltway, the PBS NewsHour compiled a list of the top ways that you can make your voice heard.
“The best ways to get in touch with your member of congress is either a phone call or email. We do our best to respond to both” said the office of my own Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “It’s better to ring us and let us know how you feel. Physical letters are fine, but there is a time lag. This is a somewhat time sensitive issue. We still have a few more days until congress is in session to deliberate, but Hagel and Kerry are appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today so the wheels are already in motion. But we welcome all commentary and criticism alike.”
Any constituent can call up their representative or senator and register their opinion on Syria. In fact some representatives, like Morgan Griffith of Virginia, have issued letters urging citizens to tell them what they think. It is often best to ask a hill staffer for a written confirmation that you have registered your opinion with your representative so that you can follow up with that member of congress and see how they voted. Email and letters are accepted as well but seem to be less effective than phone calls. It’s as simple as finding your representative’s office number.
Some members of congress are holding special town hall meetings to hear their constituents’ opinions on the crisis in Syria. Rep. John Larson held a meeting yesterday in West Hartford, Conn., and both Rep Justin Amash of Michigan and Rep Tom Reed of New York are holding meetings today in their home states. If you would like to attend one of these Town Halls here is a guide to the best ways to prepare. You can visit your representative’s websites to find out if there is a town hall meeting scheduled near you.
Lastly, you can sign a petition or tweet directly at congressional members. MoveOn.org has a petition to not strike Syria without Congressional approval, while Petition2Congress is running one to intervene in Syria.
Rep. Larson and Rep Neugebauer tweeted a few photos from their town hall meetings, while others like Senator Coons of Delaware have used the platform to make their opinions known on the subject.
In West Hartford to discuss possible military action in Syria pic.twitter.com/BNYZ5sBpIx
— Rep. John Larson (@RepJohnLarson) September 2, 2013
Statement from Senator Coons on Syria http://t.co/hvmXNdNqOq
— Office of Sen. Coons (@SenCoonsOffice) August 31, 2013
— Randy Neugebauer (@RandyNeugebauer) September 3, 2013
Now go forth and make your opinions heard!