How to engage the federal government (in ways other than voting):

Brittany breaks down ways you can engage federal government other than voting:

  • First, one of the great things about democracy in the U.S. is that it is theoretically transparent and accessible. You have the power to interact with the shapers of law and policy and most times it doesn’t require anything more than a cellphone.

  • On a basic level, interact with your Congressional Representative, especially the member representing your district in the House. You can call, email, and even set up meetings with them on issues that matter to you. ANYBODY can lobby..not just big corps but individuals too.

  • When scheduling to meet w/your Rep. it’s possible that you may end up meeting with the staffer who handles the subject matter relevant to your issue. This is not a bad thing, staffers filter and deliver messages to congressional reps and work on behalf of district constituents.

  • Be concise and clear in your meeting and articulate the message clearly. If you know other people from your district who care about the issue, invite them to join your meeting as well.

  • Of course if you can’t make it to your Reps district office or DC office, then calling or emailing is good too. Most Congressional Member offices track the issues their constituents call in about and use that info to influence their policy decisions.

  • Another option for interacting with the federal government is to comment on proposed agency rules. Agency “rules” are essentially laws created by government agencies. Congress gave some agencies the power to create rules, but there is a process they have to go through.

  • Agency Heads are not elected officials. This is why their “rule making” authority has to go through a thorough process prior to a rule being “law”. They are required to provide notice to the public and allow the public to comment on the proposed rule.

  • This is where you come in. You can attend a hearing on a rule and/or comment on the proposed rule online! It’s literally that easy. If an agency is creating a rule that you think is wrong/unjust or impacts an issue you care about- you can submit your sentiments to them directly.

  • Go to http://regulations.gov  to comment on a rule that would matter to you. You can even use the website to research what proposed rules are out there.

  • Finally, obtaining information about government action on an issue you care about could be as easy as submitting a FOIA request. Through this request, the government will send you any info they have on a matter within the scope of your search.

  • For obvious reasons this information could be redacted but FOIA request are still an extraordinary tool for getting information you may not have access to. Check with various agencies to see how they process FOIA requests.



Blher Podcast