Why you should contact your representatives even if they’re already on your side

When your politician wants to do the right thing, they need your help. Calls and tweets are very helpful to them. Here’s why:

Politicians can’t just do whatever they want, because they represent us. Whatever they believe personally, they have to take into account what their voters think. Politicians can do some unpopular things, but they have to pick unpopular issues very, very careful, or they lose reelection and can’t do anything at all.

If you call/tweet your representatives about something they already agree with, you are telling them: We have your back. You don’t have to worry that doing the right thing will cost you the election. Doing the right thing will get you votes, and make you *more* likely to win. That gives them more options.

Another way that calling representatives who are on the right side helps them: Representatives can’t pass legislation by themselves. They have to persuade other representatives to vote the right way. There are usually politicians who are on the fence and potentially open to persuasion.

If your representative can say to other representatives: “My phones are ringing off the hook about this issue”, or “My twitter mentions are overwhelmed with people asking me to do this”, it can persuade other politicians that this issue matters to voters. Every representative who can do this makes a difference. A politician may sometimes be in denial about what their constituents are saying; it’s harder to stay in denial if they’re hearing it from multiple politicians whose states/districts are similar to theirs. Even if your representative is unwaveringly on your side and in a safe seat, your calls/tweets can help them  to persuade others.

Stories and pictures also matter. Telling stories can persuade politicians to do the right thing. During the health care debates, every politician told stories that a constituent told to them. The vote was close, and the Republicans who voted against it said that stories were part of what convinced them to do the right thing. If you tell your representatives stories about why the issue matters to you, it can help them to act on it, even if they already agree with you.

Tweeting pictures at your representatives can also help. Pictures of protests show politicians that people care enough to show up in person and protest. This suggests to them that people care enough to show up and vote. This is reassuring to politicians who agree with you, and they can use those pictures to put pressure on politicians who aren’t sure how they want to vote. Pictures of real people affected by the issue are also helpful. They show, viscerally, that this is about real people. That can be very persuasive.

Another reason why contacting politicians who agree with you matters: If you make the issue you’re calling/tweeting about a safe issue for them, then they don’t have to spend political capital on it. If they don’t spend political capital on it, then it’s available to spend on a risky issue. Calling/tweeting them helps them to do the right thing about the immediate issues *and* future issues which may be riskier.

Tl;dr: Even if your representatives agree with you, it’s still worth contacting them about important issues. Calling, tweeting, and otherwise contacting them can give them them *ability* to do what they already want to do. Tell them stories. Tweet them pictures that tell stories, including pictures you take at any protests you go to. Scroll up for more explanation of why this matters.