Tips for Writing to Hold Elected Officials Accountable
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
So recently I've been maintaining a correspondence through email with POTUS, a governor, a county judge, commissioners, several superintendents, senators, representatives, two mayors, an Attorney General to name a few.
I believe that if these people are approached respectfully with specific questions then I sometimes might have managed to influence some policy or help guide them privately toward more centered, positive action. It's like gardening. Some seeds may take. Others may not. Sometimes you try more than once.
Social media is never the place to start a conversation with a politician or leader. No one likes to be criticized first in front of others unless necessary. Start with email (or phone if you prefer which I don't and a paper trail with elected official or other leadership roles is helpful for you later).
Another reason social media to reach elected officials doesn't work well a lot of times is because those people may not even monitor received replies. You just end up shouting into a void with few results.
If you believe someone is acting in an unethical way in an elected office, revisit their office's stated mission/duties/responsibilities. Where does this person fail or meet the stated mission or duties? If you remind them of their guidelines it might have more impact than you telling them how to do their job.
I saw an elected official in a photo on social media in a room full of unmasked people at a political rally where the person speaking tested positive for COVID the next day. I emailed him about it, stating I think elected officials need to set an example to encourage correct, safe behavior during a pandemic. He apologized and said he normally wore masks in stores and church but this time he regretted that he didn't.
Avoid speaking in an accusatory way in email. You might be muttering under your breath to yourself that this person is a snake in some cases. But your written words need to ALWAYS be civil. Take the high road NO MATTER what. Ask them open ended questions or share concerns speaking with the I person voice.
If you don't get a reply in email after two tries with the second clearly stating the deadline for that person to respond. Then include in that last email that if you don't hear from them by a certain date that you'll be reaching out over social media. That's when you bring in the public to witness the discussion.
Be aware of policy and guidelines for social media. If an elected official is posting under their job title or under the title of public agency then YOU have every right to report what is unethical or inappropriate.
Personal example: One elected official had pinned bitcoin donation URLs to his twitter site? After a few exchanges with those he works with then that tweet disappeared? Might be a coincidence.
My collage of watercolor strips I painted to form a hashtag.