This article has Hawaii-specific information but the ideas can be applied to any U.S. state by any U.S. citizen.
You know the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” 10% or less of the general population, of any group, can influence and control the rest. A podcaster recently pointed out that the Nazis and Chairman Mao’s Red Guard made up a small minority among their mostly peaceful countrymen. Yet, they caused the deaths of 65 million Chinese and 6 million Jews. This kind of power is too dangerous to give away. Hawaii’s less extreme, local squeaky wheel examples: build light rail and stop the inter-island ferry. Both decisions cost the state millions of dollars and negatively impacted our quality of life.
Ignoring or catering to the squeaky 10% is not the answer. Communicating your views to your elected officials clearly and often is the only way they will know how the rest of their constituents think; they can’t read your mind. Don’t wait until a controversial bill with a short time frame is up for a vote to storm the capitol. Write now. Write often. It’s their job to represent ALL of us, not just the squeaky ones.
Contacting your elected officials takes a fraction of the whole time we email, Twitter, Instagram, or text, and is the most significant communication you will do in a week. Help them accurately represent your views when voting on legislation.
Do you have an opinion about local issues in the 2019 Hawaii Legislative session? These are some of my concerns:
- “No right turn on red” signs at all intersections
- Fluoridating the water supply
- Publicly funded preschools
Voters have the greatest impact in local politics because of democratic elections in which each registered voter has one vote, unlike presidential elections decided by the electoral college. Local politicians work for us and we can vote for or against them and what they stand for. The more they hear from us, the better they can represent us.
What are the Issues
The Hawaii State Legislature homepage lets you track measures, find your area representatives by your address, and submit testimony, among other things. For plain language explanations of federal bills check out GovTrack Insider. LegiScan offers federal and state legislative tracking with links to the complete bills. You may be surprised by proposed legislation affecting you and your family.
Seek balance in information sources
Listen to podcasts and read books for more information and exploration of the issues. Don’t rely on Facebook and Google for news because algorithms show you news stories that match your search history. As a result, public opinion, yours too, is being shaped and herded like sheep. For a balanced perspective look for multiple viewpoints and think critically.
Explain your experience or point of view when you write to your representatives.
Direct national concerns to congressmen and state senators and local issues to your area representatives.
Remember to thank them
They are sitting in long, boring meetings and sacrificing time with their families for us. The U.S. Senators and State Representatives are also giving up Hawaii time while they work and live in DC. Politicians appreciate receiving positive feedback as well.
Make a difference
Effective communication is saying the right thing to the right person at the right time. Direct your concerns to someone who can do something about them. Communicating with your elected representatives is more important than posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media because they make laws and influence other lawmakers. Unless your followers are legislators, they can’t do anything about taxes or rail spending.
Look at the big picture
I know you don’t want to write some stranger about a seemingly non-urgent issue, neither do I. Let the issue’s Big Picture importance motivate you and don’t let the bill pass without weighing in.
Our freedoms are too precious to take for granted.
Protesting is fine, however, a simple, honest letter briefly stating your concerns provides laser focus on the message and intended audience. You may not have the time or want to protest, but you still have a voice. Clarify your values and views by emailing, writing letters, and voting. Your voice is a megaphone in local elections and politics. Speak up!
Who Are Our Politicians?
Brian Schatz (term ends in 2022)
Mazie Hirono (term ends in 2024)
State Representatives / Congressmen
Ed Case (District 1, term ends in 2021)
Tulsi Gabbard (District 2, term ends in 2021)
You also have area representatives; find them using your address here.
It is easiest to email your letter, referring to a specific bill by number and name, if possible. Their emails are accessible through their official websites. Subscribe to their newsletters to keep track of issues and bills they have sponsored. They want to hear from you and they make it easy to contact them.