At times even an active, enthusiastic civic participant such as myself can suffer a bout of cynicism. I begin to wonder if all my calls, emails and submitted contact forms are actually doing anything.
But it turns out the half hour I block out for civic activism before I start my work day matters after all, according to a recent report by the Congressional Management Foundation.
The report, one of the most comprehensive studies of civic engagement conducted in recent history, assesses the impact of constituent correspondence with Congress. One of its main findings is that the number of people who contact members of Congress has increased exponentially over the past decade. Researchers also found elected representatives value feedback and input from their constituents, although some forms of communication may have a greater impact than others.
That said, it’s also important to keep in mind that staffing shortages (Congressmen are only allowed to hire 18 staffers each) and outdated technology make responding to constituents challenging for congressional offices.
Before one can engage, however, one needs to know what to comment. That means tracking legislation, which can be a daunting prospect even for seasoned political junkies. Fortunately, technology is here to save us.Read more