January 20, 1967
The Right to Write
Some Suggestions on Writing Your Congressman
Surprisingly few people ever write their congressman. Perhaps 90 per cent of our citizens live and die without ever taking pen in hand and expressing a single opinion to the man who represents them in Congress -- a man whose vote may decide what price they will pay for the acts of government, either in dollars or in human lives.
This reluctance to communicate results from
the typical and understandable feelings that congressmen have no time or
inclination to read their mail, that a letter probably won't be answered
or answered satisfactorily, that one letter won't make any difference anyway.
Based on my own six years' experience, and speaking for myself, I can state
flatly that most of these notions are wrong:
Mail to a modern-day congressman is more important than ever before. In the days of Clay, Calhoun, Webster and Lincoln congressmen lived among their people for perhaps nine months of the year. Through daily contacts in a constituency of less than 50,000 people (I represent 10 times that many) they could feel rather completely informed on their constituents' beliefs and feelings. Today, with the staggering problems of government and increasingly long sessions, I must not only vote on many more issues than early-day congressmen but I rarely get to spend more than 60 days a year in Arizona. Thus my mailbag is my best "hot line" to the people back home.
Here are some suggestions that apply to all
In the course of my years in Congress I have received every kind of mail imaginable -- the tragic, the touching, the rude, the crank; insulting, persuasive, entertaining, and all the rest. I enjoy receiving mail, and I look forward to it every morning; in fact my staff people call me a "mail grabber" because I interfere with the orderly mail-opening procedures they have established. Whatever form your letter takes I will welcome it. But to make it most helpful I would suggest these "do's" and "don'ts".
My list of "don'ts" would include these:
The complexities of the legislative process and the way in which bills change their shape in committee is revealed by a little story from my own experience. One time a couple of years ago I introduced a comprehensive bill dealing with a number of matters. I was proud of it, and I had great hopes for solving several perennial problems coming before Congress. However, after major confrontations in committee and numerous amendments I found myself voting against the "Udall Bill."
Here we are in January, 1967, at the start of a new and drastically different 90th Congress. Before 1968 is history the House clerk will record my votes on more than 250 issues. But in a very real sense these will not be "my" votes; they will be yours too. There are more than 500,000 Americans in the 2nd Congressional District of Arizona, but when the clerk calls the roll, he calls only my name. Thus these 250 votes I cast will speak for you in the decisions our country must make in the next two years.
I need your help in casting those votes. The "ballot box" is not far away. It's painted red, white and blue, and it reads "U. S. Mail."
Agriculture Yearbooks Available
One of the most popular Agriculture Yearbooks of all time is Consumers All, published initially in 1965. It contains highly useful information on a variety of subjects, including home design and construction, furnishings, household equipment, financing, landscaping, clothing and food. Because the yearbook was reprinted some months ago, I have an additional allotment of several hundred. I will be happy to mail you a free copy on request -- while the supply lasts.
Additions to My Mailing List
Through the past six years my newsletter mailing list has grown from a few hundred to nearly 20,000. For the most part these additions have been made in response to requests from constituents who have heard about the newsletter from their friends. With the new Congress getting under way I would be pleased to add the names and addresses of any others who may be interested in receiving my reports. If you are not now on my mailing list or have a friend you would like to add, please write me or fill out and mail the coupon below:
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