U. S. Capitol

The first congressional district of Michigan has a new congressperson, Jack Bergman. I began to receive an e-newsletter from his office shortly after he was sworn in. In the first one, I saw, among other things, a “survey” which seemed biased in favor of right wing issues. So I printed out the newsletter, and in the white space left on the front and back, I wrote, with pen and ink, a response to that survey, suggesting that it wouldn’t gauge the true sentiment of Congressman Bergman’s constituency. This was put in a paper envelope and mailed to Washington. No response.

The second e-newsletter I received talked about the Affordable Care Act, which I am passionate about. Again, I penned and mailed my thoughts. Again no reply… until this morning.

It was a little after 10:00, and I had just finished giving Franco his medicine, food, and water. I was slicing some onions for one of my favorite breakfasts; taters and eggs, when the phone rang. The caller id said, “U. S. Capitol.”

The caller asked if this was Ted. Yes it was. He then identified himself as Gabe Hisem from Congressman Bergman’s office in Washington. I turned off the burner and sat down at the table. Gabe was responding to my letter!

He said he appreciated my letter and wondered if there were any issues I’d like to discuss with their office. Hoo Boy, yes there were. I started with the survey. I told him I had experience with surveys during my professional life at the university, and that the survey they published seemed designed to reinforce a right wing agenda. He explained the survey was a carry-over from Congressman Bergman’s predecessor, Dan Benishek. I thought it looked familiar 🙂

Next we talked about a town hall meeting in the copper country. Gabe said their office was aware we were interested in a town hall meeting, and that they are doing their best to schedule one in the near future. I pressed him, but that was the most I was able to get.

“However,” he said, “there are two upcoming phone townhalls planned for next month.” My ears perked up. March 7th and 30th at 7:00 pm the congressman’s office will host a conference call format where constituents can call in and express their views directly. Gabe asked me for my name and phone number, and said I’d be contacted as the dates grew nearer with the phone number to dial and code so I could participate. Score!

We also talked extensively about the Affordable Care Act. I requested and received contact information from this young man, who is a resident of the Traverse City area, BTW. If you’d like to call and express your views and/or request a slot in the town hall meetings in March, dial (202) 225-4735. Anyone should be able to help you, but when I call next, I’ll ask for Gabe. He explained that 11-1 is usually their busiest time, and that Fridays are usually quietest. There are times when all 4 lines are busy, though, so don’t give up if you receive a busy signal.

We may not make an impact on the thinking of our new congressman, but at least he won’t be able to say he isn’t hearing anything from his constituents. When I was in high school I remember learning how a representative democracy is supposed to work. Occasionally, it appears that it does.

3 Responses to “U. S. Capitol”

  1. Linda ligon says:

    Good for you Ted and thanks for the info.

  2. Dean Woodbeck says:

    I admire your ability to write in a calm way about this, Ted. The cynic in me says that conference calls will be easier to manipulate and won’t reflect the fervor that he would find in a town hall meeting. The cynical cynic in me says he’d rather go to Louisiana, where he spent most of his time before being elected. I also think the excuse that the survey was Benishek’s is lame. He didn’t really address your concern as to why they would send such a thing in the first place.

    • admin0 says:

      All good points Dean. If all I can get is a crumb, I’ll take that crumb. I offered my volunteer services to help them put together a real survey if they are interested. I mentioned that I was a volunteer fire chief already, which may have bought me some credibility. We’ll see what they say.

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