How EAA’s Rally Congress Works

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

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9 Responses to How EAA’s Rally Congress Works

  1. Kayak Jack says:

    Actually, I would think that a representative democracy would profit greatly from direct communication between the voter and our elected representatives. Paid lobbyists may lose effectiveness after while? Words from the GITS (Guy/Gal In The Street) can carry a punch.
    But, I’m afflicted with terminal honesty, and therefore don’t qualify to be a politician. (No pun intended.)

  2. Pete says:

    Thanks Mac but I have yet to see a logical reason why the FAA should pay. This country cannot continue to say they want to reduce the debt except when it effects them personally. The EAA has the money (just add up what you pay at the gate to get in!) and the show is run by volunteers…what’s the problem? How about Jack Pelton ponies up and says, “We are doing our part to reduce the debt, what are you doing?” This does nothing but make our EAA membership look like greedy, stingy airplane owners that don’t give a damn about their country. Cheering for gas sucking warbirds does not qualify.

  3. Dennis says:

    This is the “Camel’s nose under the tent” problem. Most of us flying VFR use very little ATC services and pay a fair amount (sometimes large) of fuel tax dollars. the point is: This service was already in the budget (as it is for all airshows that are regular events). Doing this the way the FAA has done is likely illegal, certainly an attempt to corner the EAA into submission at this late date. I personally think the FAA sends too many people to the show & some of what they do could be done by volunteers. I definately think EAA has been more about how much money they can extract from the attendees over the last 10 or so years. The local hotels gouge the public for the week, but, I have only missed 6 Oshkosh conventions since 1973. Over the last ten years I have bought an average of 750 gal of gas & 20 nights on the road to bring my airplane to the show. It is the only place in the world to see these sights.
    Jack should hav told the FAA to “Go Pound Salt”.

  4. Jim says:

    Thanks for what you’ve done and continue to do in the interest of Experimental Aviation as well as for General Aviation. We must fight back to prevent irrational taxation by our Government.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Wayne Boyd says:

    Disraeli: “The world is wearied of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.”

  6. lmaynard says:

    Pete seems to be saying that is patriotic to send more money to the federal government. At least that seems to be the gist of his comments. Pete, if you really feel that way then why don’t you just send your entire monthly paycheck to the federal government and let them decide what to do with the results of your OWN labor?

  7. M. Smith says:

    In my town and most towns across America promoters pay for extra police at events. My guess is the EAA is paying for extra police at Airventure. Most of the time those extra police are off duty officers augmented by some overtime officers. Everyone sees the reason for this. Local police departments and the local populace simply will not pay for the police at a paid for profit event.

    The FAA being the “cops of the sky” in every since of the phrase are in the same position. How is it different? Airventure is a paid for profit event and air traffic control, just like the extra cops on the ground, are part of the cost of putting on the event.

    Maybe it hasn’t been this way in the past and the EAA was lucky for that, put now its time to pay the piper and own up to the responsibility of paying their way.

    Am I an EAA member? Yes!! Am I a tax paying citizen? Yes!! Do I want to give all my money to the government so they can fund every little for profit event for every group around the country? No!!

    BTW – I really have to question the timing of the article a few issues back that bragged about how all the air traffic controllers volunteered their time and clamored to get a chance to work ATC for Airventure. It seems in retrospect that what they clamored to get was OT pay, paid for hotel stays, and a nice free admission to a cool airshow. Was the article an attempted preemptive strike to stave off the coming FAA charge for ATC services?

    • Lou Stevens says:

      I don’t think most of us would mind paying IF we felt that the FAA (and the rest of the Federal Government for that matter) was being a fair and responsible steward of the fuel and other taxes we pay. Many of us fly VFR out of uncontrolled fields and seldom, if ever, use the infrastructure that has been created…yet we don’t get to waive the fuel tax on every gallon of fuel we purchase.
      I see the FAA supplying controllers to AirVenture as a small payback of taxes paid over the years. This event provides jobs, raises interst in aviation, and generates millions of dollars in fuel sales (10,000 planes with an average of perhaps 150 gallons each, generates over $300,000 in federal taxes), so we ARE paying our fair share.

  8. Steve Carter says:

    Today the EAA set a milestone in aviation history. Today EAA agreed to extortion demands from FAA. Aren’t you proud to be a member and have your voice heard fellow aviators? 21 United States Senators voiced their opposition to this extortion. Why is there not a law suit filed and injunctive relief sought? Most all of them are lawyers are they not? If you go to OSHKOSH make sure you voice your opinions to the deaf federal aviation administration and get our money back! Remember their ole saying “we’re not happy till you’re not happy” What a rip off! These gangsters will lie cheat and steal you blind people. WAKE UP!

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