Go Visit Your Representatives

Just a quick PSA inspired by next week’s election day and a general sense of civic responsibility...

When, in the course of daily conversation, we mention calling, emailing, or visiting politicians about the issues we care about, we’re regularly shocked to discover that very few young people know they have the ability and most importantly the right to pay their public representatives a visit.  

Yes, we said visit.  In person.  At their office.  Uninvited.

The DC’s visitors bureau seems intent on burying this information but you, American citizen of whatever stripe, have the right to walk into your representative’s offices and....tell them whatever you feel like telling them.  You might tell them you love their work, you might tell them you are looking for snacks, or you might tell the poor aide sitting in the reception area that you think their boss is pure evil.  Whatever.  You’re free to make an appointment to meet with staff if you have something specific to discuss, but you are literally allowed to just wander in off the street and say hello whenever the fancy strikes.  You don’t even need to dress up.  Lila can personally attest to having visited many a Congressional office in an ill-fitting tee-shirt and ugly jeans without incident.  

Also, should you be walking the halls of Congress and spot a Senator or Congressman going about their daily business, you are totally encouraged (by us and the Constitution) to go up and introduce yourself and tell them whatever is on your mind.  They are free to ignore you, but you are also free to keep talking.  It’s impossible to describe how empowering it feels to just casually force a handshake upon a Senator and yammer about whatever you want so you’ll just have to try it for yourselves to understand.  We highly recommend.

This right, by the way, also extends to local representatives like those in your city council and state assembly, as well as the local offices of your federal representatives.  Every Congressman and Senator has an office in their home district that is totally open to you, their constitutent.  The State and Federal office buildings that house your representatives are in fact legally required to be open to the public because the American people own those buildings.  YOU own those buildings.

Okay, end of PSA.  Beginning of a new era (we hope).  Happy wandering!

 You at the Dalai Lama have the same right to barge into Harry Reid's office and offer your thoughts/blessings/ramblings/questionably accurate insights/calming presence (image via http://www.dalailama.com)

You at the Dalai Lama have the same right to barge into Harry Reid's office and offer your thoughts/blessings/ramblings/questionably accurate insights/calming presence (image via http://www.dalailama.com)