An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Do you ever feel like your legislator or other political leader is out of touch? Do you have any idea of how many people write to them expecting answers to their questions? Thousands. No, tens of thousands. If you include mass mail, your U.S. senators are probably getting hundreds of thousands of letters, faxes, and emails over the course of a year. They can't respond to even a fraction of these without their staffs (much smaller than you think, but that's another day's tale). They also can't do it without automating the process.

So, most of what you get from your politicians is a waste of time to be sent and to be read. But for many citizens, a letter is the only contact they may have with their lawmakers. Since the taxpayers pay for the staff to write these letters and the postage to mail them, today many members of Congress use these as another tool in their constant campaigns for reelection.

One congressional letter writer (a low level staffer not long out of college), frustrated with the meaningless criss-cross of form mail and her role in the process, sent the following, based on the usual form but telling the truth, for your enjoyment:

Mr. Joe Hick
1234 Main Street
Uretown, MU 36543

Dear Joe:

Thank you for your communication nagging me about some petty problem you have that has little to do with my work here in Washington. I would appreciate it if you would not bother me again.

I don’t really understand or care about what you wasted your time (and that of my staff) calling about. Nonetheless, I’ll babble on inanely below in a vague effort to convince you that I do, and that I am addressing your problem. Blah blah, blah blah, HR something something, referred to House Committee on the Pointless which will never be heard from again.

May I also suggest that you bother your state legislators, the Department of Inane Blather, and especially your Republican U.S. Senators (all of whom will probably make even less effort to address your concern than I do).

Rest assured, that I will try to forget your opinion as quickly as possible and will do little should an opportunity come before Congress to address this issue.

I would also like to ignore your thoughts on other issues that may be considered in Congress. Please take a moment to visit my website where you can complete a survey on-line so that I can effectively target you with mass mail to keep you voting for me. In addition, please feel free to throw away any further correspondence you might have the urge to send.


Joe Pol
Your Representative
Washington, DC (from which I will never return to hickville)