I hope you used EAA’s Rally Congress service to support Senators who are asking the FAA not to levy nearly a half-million dollar fee on EAA to pay for Oshkosh controller expenses. By Thursday morning more than 11,000 people had used the service to send about 20,000 letters and emails to their Senators supporting EAA.
I suspect that you may think this service is, well, too automated to be effective. After all, can thousands of people sending essentially the identical message to their Senator or Congressman be noticed? Do these kind of electronic communications matter? Is it as effective as an old fashioned snail mail paper letter or phone call?
In our electronically connected world the answer to those questions is yes. The Rally Congress system has proven to be one of the most effective methods for constituents to let their representatives in Washington know how they feel about issues.
The primary reason Rally Congress works so well is that the system has been designed cooperatively with the staffs of Senators and Congressmen. It is the office staffs that handle communications from constituents and they want to receive as many comments as possible. But they need the communication to be in a form that can be read and analyzed and tabulated efficiently.
Rally Congress has a national data base so that your message is directed to only your Senator or representative. It is not as effective to send comments to a Senator or Congressmen who does not need your vote.
A fundamental function of Rally Congress is that the system has the correct email addresses for everyone in congress. As you can imagine, each member has a variety of email addresses but not all are used for constituent comments.
The creators of the Rally Congress system worked with congressional staffs to design an email format that fits smoothly into the system used in every office. For example, some messages could be rejected as spam. But the Rally Congress message is formatted in the exact way that will be accepted by all filters used for email in congressional offices. That assures that your message will get through and be counted.
And counting—assembling a tally—matters a whole lot. In the old days congressional staffers would count the number of phone calls they received on an issue. Or they counted post cards and snail mail letters. Just like when voting, numbers are what matter. With the Rally Congress system the counting is essentially automated. Congressional staffers can measure response almost minute by minute. And unlike phone lines, the email system in congress has enough capacity that your message will not be put on hold, or spend days in the mail room.
Does it matter if you modify and personalize the suggested letter that appears on the Rally Congress page? Perhaps. If response to an issue is small, actual email messages may be read closely. But when response is great, as it appears to be on the issue of charging EAA for controller expenses, there isn’t time for staffers or the Senator to read many, and certainly not most, of the actual messages.
So, the Rally Congress system may seem too impersonal, too formatted and too automated to really matter. But that’s just not true. A reaction from constituents always matters to any Senator or Congressman and Rally Congress is a super effective way for all of us to be heard in a way that can’t be ignored or put on hold or sent a busy signal.
I don’t expect EAA to ask you to use Rally Congress very often, but when issues that are vital to private aviation arise it is the best method we have to make your voice heard in Washington. I hope you take the time to use it by clicking on this link http://govt.eaa.org/10203/tell-faa-no-user-fees-support-aviation-events/