Dumb Politicians

A week or two ago, I wrote to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the federal representative for my district, to politely express displeasure at his support of HR 1022.
I mentioned that the 1994-2004 ban had essentially no effect on crime or protecting police officers, yet seriously infringed upon the rights of the law-abiding.
I received his response today:

You will be pleased to know that I am already a cosponsor of H.R. 1022, Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007. Rest assured that as it moves forward in Congress, my staff and I will be monitoring it closely.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? He thinks I’m pleased?
Is he (or his staff) so seriously deluded that they think that someone writing in to complain about his co-sponsoring a bill actually supports that action? Is this how he justifies his actions, by magically converting complaints into praise?
Yes, I know it’s just a form letter, but they could still have prepared a suitable response for people opposing his actions rather than assuming that everyone supports his actions.
Also, every legislator I’ve written to replies with a different subject than the one I submitted. For example, I wrote in with “Oppose HR 1022” as the subject. His response was “In Response to Your Message”. I’m sorry…which message? There’s a reason they invented subject lines.

6 thoughts on “Dumb Politicians”

  1. It used to be that all senators and congressmen took constituent letters seriously and carefully replied to them. I believe the thinking was that for every letter received there were probably several hundred others who thought the same way but didn’t write. Thus, by paying close attention to the letters a politician could get a sense of the pulse of his constituency.
    A form letter, often non-responsive like the one you received, are now the norm. Either the politicians no longer believe the theory or they no longer care because campaign finance reform, by making it difficult for a challenger to raise funds, has made it easier for incumbents to keep their office. Thank you Senator McCain.

  2. I get the exact same responses from Dick Durbin (imagine that). If I were you, I would personally call Grijalva’s office, and request to speak to him personally about this. He is your representative and you have a right to communicate to him – in other words, listening to you is his job.
    Put your questions to him in a way that he cannot ignore them. And then let him know, as an aside, that you were disappointed to receive a response from him that was OBVIOUSLY sent without any consideration on his part.

  3. I’d call his office, and schedule a time to meet with him or his Chief of Staff when he is in the District. Find something else you agree with him on first though, as an ice breaker. And be nice about the situation.
    They likely have no idea. These guys tend to track general messages that come from correspondence, and actually for the most part pay attention to letters from constituents – but with the advent of the internet and fax machines they are simply overwhelmed by the shear volume of materials recieved and so don’t give most items their full attention.
    But if you follow up, especially if you take the time to do it in person in the District (or better yet stop by as an angry constituent when in DC) you’ll get a much better level of service.
    Carl, regarding Durbin, email me off line. I have pretty good contacts in his office. Dick himself isn’t too bad on a personal level (well, on guns he is, but he’s a political animal and appreciates a good heated conversation. I used to hate him, but since I’ve come to know him we just tend to agree to disagree – especially since guns aren’t the issue I work on in real life), but he’s in a difficult position because of the overwhelming nature of Chicago politics. He’s not from the Chicago machine (he’s actually from downstate – East St. Louis – which isn’t much better, but still an improvement over Chicago) and feels enormous pressure to follow Chicago’s lead not too mention as the #2 Democrat who will likely make a play for Reid’s spot he wants to appeal to the liberal base of the party to ensure their support when the time comes.

  4. When I got a form letter that was years out of date (even the date on the letter!), I called up the DC office and asked to speak with the Chief of Staff. At first, they tried to keep me from getting through, but then I explained why I was calling as an unhappy constituent, and that I felt I should be able to discuss the matter with someone who would give the issue at least enough time and respect to acknowledge the correct year, and I got through. She was mortified that it happened.
    It didn’t win the Congressman to vote how I wanted, but you can rest assured the issue got more attention in that office that day than it had in a while. They put someone on it on to research all of the new facts of the updated bill, research the issue, and reexamine their form letter. Sure, it’s just a letter that’s now factually correct, but it also told them that I cared about it enough to follow-up, something most voters won’t do.

  5. Here in Missouri, it seems that all of the antigun Democrats are using the exact same form letter. States that they “support the second amendment” but also support “common sense” restrictions on firearms. At least Senator Claire McCaskill and Rep. Cleaver are both using the same form letter for sure. If a Representative from Kansas City and a Senator from St. Louis are both using the same letter I think it’s a safe bet that it’s being shared by more than just the two of them.

  6. One of the good things I can say about Baron Hill (D-IN), other than he’s good on guns, is that he responded to every letter I wrote him, personally, and never with a form letter. My current rep, John Peterson (R-PA) also responds with real letters. Unfortunately, so does Arlen Specter, who sent me a very nasty response to a letter I had written; the only thing that was missing was the profanity. I guess there’s a reason he’s known as Snarlin Arlen.

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