He That Has Ears To Hear, Let Him Hear (Matthew 11:15-30)
Challenging both secular wisdom and religious doctrines. - Will our descendants know moral virtue?
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Contact Your Elected Officials
Federal and State
James Madison, Federalist No. 57, 1788 - The house of representatives ... can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.
Contact your elected officials directly (below) or by using POPVOX for specific Bills.
POPVOX is a direct connection to your Members of Congress. POPVOX verifies that you’re a real person and an actual constituent and guarantees delivery of your message.
The Future Of Political Engagement Is Here (And It's Called POPVOX) By Sarah
McKinney - Did you know that members of Congress introduced more than 6,600
bills and resolutions in 2013 alone? Probably not, because only the most
controversial make it to mainstream news, and the coverage tends to be so
sensationalized that it becomes easy to tune out. And lets face it, everyone and
their mother is feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the abundance of information
being catapulted our way every day. Taking additional time to research various
bills up for vote, and understand the cryptic language used to determine new
policy proposal while our government continues to argue over their differences
like children in a schoolyard, stagnating needed progress? It’s no wonder that
The United States is suffering from decreased political engagement.
But what if there was a technology solution – a non-partisan platform providing you with a 360-degree view of every bill and resolution, organized by issue area to enable easy discovery, and aggregating personal letters from people just like you, as well as professional opinions from advocacy groups and trade associations, and using location-based data to show you what Congress is actually hearing from verified constituents? What if all you had to do was click, and you’d be taken to an online tool where you could write a letter to the appropriate lawmaker, be guaranteed delivery, and then see how your story is “appreciated” by other people interested in the same issue? Well, that reality is here, and it’s being made possible by a startup called POPVOX that’s translating grassroots ideas into action on Capitol Hill.
Its two founders – Rachna Choudhry and Marci Harris – met at a dinner in 2009, and soon discovered a shared passion for a problem that hit both close to home, albeit from different sides of the same coin.
Proprietary software scrapes Congress.gov so that once a new bill is posted there it’s automatically added to POPVOX, providing their users with a dynamic summary of up-to-date information. Choudhry is responsible for reaching out to respected voices working within the nonprofit and corporate sectors, and asking them to contribute their opinion of bills that relate to their area of expertise. Monetization occurs through a variety of white label tools, such as their “Write Congress” customizable widget, which can be pulled onto any website, providing an easy way for targeted audiences to take meaningful, measurable, action. They also offer a variety of custom analytics and data mining tools – think social media monitoring, but focused on social issues and legislation. And the key to their success is that every user who writes a personal letter to Congress is a verified constituent – providing their home address and allowing POPVOX’s software to identify their congressional district. Congressional staffers finally have data they need to make informed decisions.
Most of the POPVOX’s current users are those who have a strong desire to have their voices heard – either due to a generalized mistrust of government, or a passion for a social cause. Students are also using the site to conduct research, which is one of those surprise use-cases that often emerge and make perfect sense in hindsight. More than half of POPVOX users (56%) say that when they’re undecided on an issue, reading what other people wrote helped them decide whether to support or oppose it. And two-thirds (65%) said that they decided to support or oppose a bill after reading an organization’s position on POPVOX. That’s pretty convincing impact, but how do they plan to spark the interest of those who are currently disengaged?
“People who write letters to members of Congress can share them via social media,” says Choudhry, “so that helps to increase awareness, and puts the personal story before the issue which is helpful from an engagement standpoint.” And once users submit a letter, POPVOX’s recommendations engine surfaces other related bills à la Netflix or Amazon, encouraging them to further explore. Revenue growth will occur through increasing their nonprofit and association client list, and expanding into the private sector – connecting with foundations, and legal affairs and social responsibility departments that are looking to engage employees and customers with policy initiatives. Says Choudhry, “We’re going after a big problem of helping people engage with their lawmakers, and while we cannot promise that lawmakers will actually read each and every letter — there’s a lot of power in hundreds of thousands of verified constituents taking the time to share their own voice.”
How to Speak Washingtonian (POPVOX) - POPVOX users are either frustrated or fascinated by the "wonky" language used in Washington. Our co-founders, having lived and worked in Washington - one as a lobbyist, the other as a Congressional staffer - are guilty of using this nerd-slang not only in POPVOX team meetings, but outside of the Nation's capital. As our intern asked, "do we want to talk like lawmen - or laymen?" We pulled this list of commonly used wonk terms as a cheat sheet for POPVOX users keeping track of the wacky world of Washington. (Then learn how POPVOX works.)
Some legislators no longer offer public email addresses, which means you can't contact them through our Contact Center. If any of your Senators or Representatives is one of these legislators, you can still reach them electronically through their contact page; look up their website at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or http://www.house.gov/MemStateSearch.html then click through to find their contact pages. Add them to your "favorites" or bookmark them, so you can contact them easily at any future time.
To Congress | House & Senate - This interactive map gives you
contact information for all of the Senators and Representatives in the United
States Congress in one centralized, easy-to-use visual format. Click on your
state on the map or on your postal code abbreviation in the alphabetical list
below. You’ll then see the names, pictures, fax numbers, phone numbers and
e-mail addresses for all of the members of the U.S. Congress in your state.
Why Fax Your Representatives? Faxing seems so outdated, so why do we recommend it? There are problems with every other form of contact. E-mails are the easiest way to go, so they flood congressional inboxes 24/7. Your e-mail could easily be overlooked or quickly forgotten. Once your e-mail is bumped off the top of the first page, it’s quickly “out of sight, out of mind.” The staffer or congressman may never even get past the subject line. (If you do decide to e-mail, keep in mind that the best time to send an e-mail is Thursday between 8 and 9 a.m. The worst time to send an e-mail is Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 to 10 a.m.) Phone calls are another popular option, but there’s no real record of your statement for your congressman to see. Phone calls are answered by assistants, often temporary college interns, who won’t be able to write down every thought or argument you make. Instead, they’re usually advised to simply keep a tally of the “For” and “Against” phone calls.
Website Lets You Vote to Cut Gov't Programs - The massive federal government budget deficit has been a key factor in the rise of the Tea Party. Given the choice, a lot of Americans would probably like to cast their own vote on what government programs should be cut from the budget. Now they can using the Internet website "YouCut." YouCut was created by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. It's a web page that lists five different federal programs every week and lets users vote either online or by using their cell phone on which program they think should be eliminated. Cantor will then try to bring up for debate on the House floor, the program that receives the most votes.
The Capitol.net web site provides more information on when Congress is in and out of session.
Commentary: Do You Feel Nervous about Calling Your Lawmakers? by Ashley Horne - Do you feel hesitant or unprepared when Focus on the Family Action asks you to call your lawmakers on a big issue? You're not alone. It's normal to feel nervous the first few times you contact your U.S. representative or senators. But Focus Action is here to make the process as smooth as possible. We've been helping people connect with their elected officials for a long time. So, here are some tips - The Three Cs - for when you receive an "action alert" in your CitizenLink e-mail or see it on our Web site. First, Be Concise. Most of the time, it is more than enough to say something like: "Hi, this is Sally Smith. I'm a constituent and am calling to ask Senator X to vote no on this bill." It's OK if the person answering the phone does not take down your name. And if you want to comment more on the issue, you can. CitizenLink typically provides a few extra talking points. Second, Be Confident. Remember, your representative and senators work for you. Not the other way around. The person answering the phone is there to tally responses from constituents in favor of or opposed to legislation. They are not there to argue with you about the merits of the bill. But what if that happens? What if you are mistreated, ignored or - even worse - belittled by the staff member who takes your call? This brings us to the final point: Be Courteous. No matter what happens, always be polite to those who work for your lawmaker. It's a great witnessing opportunity. CitizenLink provides feedback forms for you to let us know how your phone call went. And you can always e-mail us your feedback. If need be, we will connect with your lawmaker's office to encourage his or her staff to communicate more hospitably with constituents. If we had a final "C" to give you, it would be this: Courage. Thank you for your courage in contacting your lawmakers when you hear from Focus that action is needed to defend family values on Capitol Hill. If you've never contacted your elected officials, give it a try today. If you'd rather e-mail your lawmakers, CitizenLink can help. However you choose to take action, remember the steps: Be Concise. Be Confident. Be Courteous.
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