Monday, June 18, 2007

When would you contact a politician?

What issue would make you upset enough or be of such importance that you would feel the urge to contact your politician and voice your opinion?

A story in today’s Oregonian newspaper about immigration talked about what a hot issue it has been for politicians, in this case Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican Sen. Gordon Smith. People have been showing up at meetings, protesting outside their offices, as well as writing letters, phoning and emailing them.

The newspaper gave an example of how public reaction has been to the immigration issue. There was a vote held in the Senate on whether or not to continue debate on the proposed immigration bill.

“Smith’s office received about 4,000 calls on immigration in the three weeks before the vote. Iraq, the second most common topic for callers, drew about 120 calls in that same period,” reported the Oregonian. Meanwhile, “Wyden's office has received hundreds of passionate calls a day about immigration.”

The newspaper quoted Wyden: “The strongest sentiments are from people who are against the bill. But in that sense, that is always the way it is. Folks who tend to be in the middle of the debate listening to both sides tend to be fairly quiet in terms of speaking out.”

It’s interesting to see what sparks people to contact their politicians. Is it surprising that the immigration issue is such a big issue for people here? Would people expect there would be more calls about the Iraq war, health costs, fuel prices, the economy, or any other topic?

Is illegal immigrants really the number one issue in this country?

A bigger question is: what would it take to influence YOU to contact your political representative? What do you think is the most important priority, and what do you want your elected politician to do for you?

It comes down to whether you feel you can make a difference, and whether your elected official has the power to make a difference on your behalf and hopefully represent your specific viewpoint.

Sometimes it comes down to track record.

When was the last time you tried to contact your politician? What type of response did you get? Were you satisfied?

If you’re not busy firing off emails to your local politician, we invite you to share with us your answers to some of these questions. We look forward to the discussion.

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