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On President’s Day, this Feburary 18th. America celebrates the achievements of some of our greatest leaders. Congress is also on break, meaning that next week, most of your elected officials will return home from Washington. Year after year, the President’s Day “recess” gives citizens an opportunity to make their voices heard directly by the politicians. It’s a great time to send a message for freedom. Let’s remind the current politicians of how much we, like America’s Founding Fathers, value our Freedom and Liberty.
Too often, we have let this opportunity slip away. In the past we missed the chance to visit the local district office or take our children to the local town hall meeting. We let Congressman Jones slip out of the grocery store without thanking him for voting to trim spending or cut taxes.
Nothing gets the attention of politicians faster than educated, informed citizens asking tough questions. The toughest competition high-priced lobbyists face is not from other high priced lobbyists. It is from an elected official’s own constituents. In fact, the seven worst words a lobbyist can hear is “I’m hearing from the folks back home.” That’s us! We’re the folks back home and we can make our voices louder than our vote by telling your representative exactly how you feel.
The President’s Day recess occurs at an important time in the political process. A new session of Congress just commenced and the President has just delivered his State of the Union speech and released his budget for the upcoming year. When Members of Congress return to Washington after the President’s Day recess, traditionally the real legislative work for the year begins. When organized citizens can make their educated voices stand out during this particular recess, their influence becomes magnified --- because they influence where the process starts.
This year, in particular, politicians have their ear tuned to where the voting public stands. In an election year, with control of both houses of Congress up for grabs, politicians react to organized pressure back home.
Before the politicians return to Washington, freedom-loving citizens need to send a few messages: First, the President’s budget proposal represents a ceiling, not a floor for spending. Congress has expressed frustration and outrage that the president would actually propose to eliminate some programs to help fund fighting terrorism. Citizens need to express equal frustration and outrage that Congress can’t control its own urge to spend.
The Bush tax cut should be made permanent. Ask your elected official: “How come spending programs are never temporary, but Congress made the first tax cut in a generation temporary?”
Senators need to understand how we feel about Senator “Do Nothing” Tom Daschle’s strategy of obstructionism. The House of Representatives has passed 50 bills not yet considered by the Senate. Despite the President nominating judges at a record pace, there are over 90 vacancies on the federal bench, because Daschle won’t allow confirmation votes.
Now Senator Daschle seems to be considering allowing the radical environmental lobby to dictate the terms of the President’s energy security legislation. They oppose all new domestic energy production and want to unilaterally implement the discredited Kyoto global warming treaty. Let your Senator know, energy security legislation should provide just that, energy security.
How can you get involved in the process? First, get educated and informed on the issues. Politicians react to constituents who clearly understand and are following the issues. I have included a number of easy-to-read issue analysis produced by CSE’s policy team.
Next, send a letter or e-mail to your elected officials. CSE’s web site can help you easily locate your elected official and send your letter for you --- it’s easy and it’s effective.
Third, give CSE a call at 1-888-JOIN CSE. We can help you find out where your elected official’s town hall or public meetings are during the recess. We can assist you in setting up a district office visit or other ways to send you message directly to your elected official.
Organized and educated citizens have more power than we often realize. Knowing when and how to use that power is critical. A great annual opportunity for citizen pressure comes next week, and I ask that all of us who care about freedom make a personal commitment to making our voices heard next week. As Thomas Jefferson said, “[It is] the people, to whom all authority belongs.”
President’s Day Recess Resources:
Click here to write your legislators and let them know what you think about pork barrel spending.
Click here to let CSE help you write a letter to your Senator on the energy debate.