Sample Letter: To Rep. David Price
We’ve had regularly-updated legislative information and ranking pages for the U.S. House and Senate for a month and a half or so. On those pages are not-so-subtle suggestions that you get in touch with your representative and let them know how you feel about their positive or not-so-positive legislative record.
I thought it might be time to put my money where my mouth was, so here’s a message I’ve sent off to my representative in the House, David Price. The following was sent via his online comment form (writing’s better than calling, letters sit in an anti-terror sorting room for months now, and faxing is so expen$ive!):
Dear Representative Price,
In November 2004 you were re-elected to office with 64% of the vote, a full 28 percentage points more than your challenger, Todd Batchelor. I was pleased to vote for you as one who was clearly the more progressive of two candidates.
Given your extraordinary margin of victory, I am perplexed that you have not added your support to the following bills, which are clear elements of a progressive platform:
You have not yet cosponsored H.R. 40, which would acknowledge the injustices of slavery and racial discrimination and establish a commission to study them. You also have not yet cosponsored H.R. 63, which would make Election Day a federal holiday to make it easier to get out and vote. America’s historic and current problems with racial discrimination and difficulties in obtaining equity in voting opportunity are a blot on the nation’s idealistic strivings toward a more perfect democracy. Why have you not added your name in support of these bills? Do you intend to?
On a separate issue, I note you have not yet cosponsored H.R. 952, which would put an end to the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which Bush Administration officials send people into the custody of certain nations, knowing full well that they will be tortured there. Extraordinary rendition is another stain on the moral clarity of the United States. It is a horrible irony that in a “War on Terror,” the United States government would allow the use of terror as a tool. You seem to be a reasonable, personable individual with a strong moral center. Why, then, have you been unwilling to stand against American complicity in the use of torture? Why have you not not cosponsored H.R. 952? What is your intention regarding this bill?
I would appreciate specific responses to these specific questions, responses that do not inform me about your general feelings on the issues of discrimination, voting, and torture, but rather addresses the matter of your lack of active support for these particular bills.
As a current resident of one of the Democrats’ “safe seats” in the Congress, you have a rare opportunity to not only keep that seat warm, but to take principled progressive stands regardless of their popularity. I urge you not to waste that opportunity.
What’s your reaction to this style of letter? How would you go about writing a similar letter? Do you have positive or negative experiences with attempting the same? What’s worked in your experience, and what hasn’t?