It’s been more than 10 days since the government shutdown began, and people are starting to get angry about it. Everything from national parks to museums and landmarks are closed until Congress decides to act like a team and formulate a plan. And while the government is finally making steps toward that goal, what are furloughed employees and concerned citizens supposed to do while waiting?
Here are four ways the Internet is making it easier for you to tell the government how you really feel about this mess.
Obviously, for anyone looking for a legitimate way to connect with their district’s assigned congressional official, this should be the first place you check out.
By entering your zip code and providing your address, the Find Your Representative function of the government site will whittle down your options until it leads you to the person to talk about your concerns.
By clicking on the envelope icon on your rep’s page, you get to leave a message telling them how the government shutdown is affecting you personally.
Now, it should be understandable that these government officials receive a crapload of emails from people around the world, so make sure you’re reaching out to the right person to ensure that you get a response back.
My husband tried this option before and was successful in hearing from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (or her legislative correspondent in charge of responding to emails after conferring with her), so no, it’s not a completely fruitless endeavor.
It will take a couple of weeks to hear back, though, so if your sentiment can’t wait, move on to the next option.
2. This online congressional directory
Congress Merge has a pretty straightforward online database that allows you to click on your state in the map.
This, however, will return a long list of contact information, so go back to the map page and enter you city and zip code (or your complete address, up to you).
Aside from providing links to the representatives’ online contact form, you are given their phone and fax numbers in Washington D.C., which is good if you prefer person-to-person contact. Congress Merge suggests that you follow the following spiel to be given proper attention:
“Hello, my name is Sally Smith and I am a constituent of (name of senator or representative). I am calling today to urge them to support/oppose HR 1234. Thank you.”
You can modify the second sentence to something like, “I am calling today to express extreme disappointment in the government shutdown. Thank you.” Just try to keep it professional and respectful.
If you’re really trying hard to see a bright side in all this, be glad to know that while the government is in shutdown mode, the Congress app on iTunes is free to download (which saves you 99 cents, whoopee).
This welcome message is confusing. Go ahead and just hit Skip.
To get the update for free, click on More and go to Upgrades.
This app is basically the same as the directory option above, but by clicking on the location icon on the top-left corner of the screen, you can instantly whittle down the long list to just your corresponding rep in Congress.
Once you allow access to your location and you get the results, tap on your rep to find his or her contact information.
You will see their DC address and phone number as well as their links to their contact form and social media accounts. While any of these methods are adequate, another thing you can try is checking out their official website to find the phone number to their local office (not the one in D.C.).
Congresswoman Lofgren’s was located at her site’s footer, but some might have theirs in their site’s contact link.
A new site called FuckYouCongress.com offers news bits about the government shutdown and some of the people who’ve (arguably) led us to this situation.
And if you get mad enough, you get hit the tweet button, enter your zip, and let your elected official know you’re fed up.
If you’re really, really fed up and gotten a good dose of liquid courage, Drunk Dial Congress is a new site that asks for your phone number and connects you to a member of Congress.
In true drunk dialing fashion, this service will use your number to connect you with a random congress person so that you may give them a piece of your mind while hammered. This fun method of getting your government to listen to your slurred complaints was reportedly created by a mobile ad firm led by former Obama campaign staffer Scott Goodstein, so you can pretty much guess which party he wants to be the brunt of your verbal abuse.
The site offers a list of suggested talking points, in case you need a kickstarter for your phone rant. And in case you’re not drunk enough, Drunk Dial Congress also has themed cocktail recipes you can prepare before embarking on your call.
If you’re done telling off Congress or would rather make your voice heard another way, a new Tumblr could help. The site is asking you to go out and buy a furloughed worker a beer (we’re sure a meal will also do … or coffee … you get the point) and post a picture to the blog – if you yourself are a furloughed employee, then send a request in. It’s a simple little way to show some humanity during this grim time.