American politicians are elected by the populace to act in our best interest. Voters choose candidates who empathize with their problems and share their concerns on important issues. Even when elected officials are far away, they should still be available to voters, who in turn should know the best ways to reach their representatives.
Calls and Letters
The traditional way to petition a politician has been by mail, and later telephone, to a congressman's Washington office. Citizens had to rely on postmen or switchboard operators to get their communications to the intended recipients. Today's politicians have their information readily accessible online, complete with contact forms. Electronic correspondence is still screened by staffers, so writers remain at the mercy of secretaries to relay their messages.
Online petitions are a modern means of letting lawmakers know your mind. This approach is less direct but no less effective. The magic is in how the Internet amplifies individual voices as part of a united crowd, harnessing the power of the people in a way that makes politicians pay attention.
If you've ever thought, "I'd like to contact my dc representative, but I don't remember who that is", petition websites have you covered. Online signatures are delivered by petition organizers right to their targeted representatives.
Old school petition sites provide platforms for appeals asking members of Congress to take some specific action. However, the next generation is changing the equation by adding features that tally petitioners' votes for or against a given issue and publicizing the outcome to politicians. The end result is a real-time informal referendum on every political issue.
Sometimes, constituents are granted a particularly powerful, if relatively rare, chance to express their feelings. At public forums such as the popular town hall meetings, or at other official appearances, you can speak to your lawmaker in person about what matters to you. This is the surefire way for politicians to hear voters' views straight from the heart.
Citizen activists have no more excuses for procrastination, so don't delay. Find your way to inspire the change you desire.