Today I did a big thing: I picked up the phone and called two strangers. Not because my job required it or because I needed to cancel a subscription. And certainly not because I wanted to. No, I called my representatives in the U.S. Senate because I had to.
Let’s Back Up
Until the 2016 campaign, the entirety of my political experience could be summed up simply as zilch.
Yes, I had voted before, but my involvement was limited to presidential elections. I’d never made time for a primary vote or even, I’m ashamed to admit, a midterm election. I hadn’t been a part of a protest. I was content to think that my representatives knew more than I did and were, therefore, better prepared to deal with the bills and resolutions coming across their desks.
Last year changed everything.
Some people have spiritual awakenings; I had a political one. The birth of my baby at the end of 2015 made the things I was seeing during the presidential campaign all the more harrowing.
Democratic traditions, civility, and even common decency were being discarded like garbage by a political candidate who was so repulsive, it was difficult for me to understand how anyone — regardless of party affiliation — could vote for him.
Note: I recognize that many people in my network found the Democratic candidate equally distasteful. This insightful blog post by the talented Holly Munson tackles some of the common questions surrounding Hillary Clinton — like “Isn’t she the lesser of two evils?” — and explains why many people supported her.
Throughout the past year I have been devouring news at a voracious pace. I even purchased a personal subscription to The New York Times — instead of relying on the office account — to support the world-class journalists working so hard to provide the American public with accurate information.
Since Trump was sworn into office, I’ve opened my daily briefing from the Times with more and more trepidation as the lies, conflicts of interest, and white supremacy tweets stack up.
Today it reached a breaking point. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
This is far from a partisan issue. The Trump administration’s outright lies regarding its contact with Russia demand an independent and thorough investigation.
It’s a matter of protecting our national security. American citizens cannot afford to accept open corruption as the new political norm. I don’t want to live in that kind of country. And that’s not the political legacy I want my son and the rest of his generation to inherit.
So I set my introvert instincts aside and picked up the phone.
How to Call Your Reps
The good news: I didn’t have to make the call alone.
5 Calls is a website that’s making it so much simpler for concerned citizens to get in touch with their representatives. The logic: angry tweets and Facebook rants don’t work. The best way to make your voice heard is to get on the phone and actually say what you’re thinking to a real-life staffer.
And 5 Calls makes it easy — after all, they want you to make five calls every day. Select an issue that’s important to you, enter your zip code, and boom: you’ll get the number of your representatives and a basic script to help you make the call.
I felt so much better having that script in front of me when I dialed. But in the end, I didn’t need to use it. I was passionate enough about this issue that it was easy to articulate how much I wanted my senators to pursue an investigation of Russia’s role — and its involvement with the Trump campaign —during the 2016 election.
The only thing you really need to remember to say is that you’re a constituent and then provide your zip code. That way the representatives can’t claim you’re some sort of robocalling mercenary from out of state, eh, Jason Chaffetz?