In the March 6 New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz writes about what happens when people call or e-mail or write to Congress. In “normal times” (not these), she says, writing is better than calling. In some circumstances, calling is better. Mass e-mails and online petitions count for little. Does any of it make a difference?
When I asked past and present Congress members and high-level staffers if constituent input mattered, all of them emphasized that it absolutely does. But when I asked them to name a time that a legislator had changed his or her vote on the basis of such input, I got, in every instance, a laugh, and then a very long pause.Schulz adds though that “For all that, constituents are not voiceless in a democracy, and every once in a while they do score major legislative wins.” And she has examples.