A group of five people representing Indivisible/Takoma Park Mobilization and Indivisible MoCo visited Maryland Congressional delegation offices to thank Senators and Representatives for participating in the February 26 Town Hall, and to pass along questions from constituents that were not addressed during the Town Hall. We provided each office with an envelope with the yellow cards containing questions from the constituents.
How it worked: One of the TPM folks had the names of one or two staffers from each office, and had e-mailed them in advance to let them know we'd be stopping by on Tuesday afternoon. When we reached the office, we asked if the staffer was available. We also asked if the Congressman was in and if we could thank him personally. If no one was available we simply left the notecards with the reception desk, and asked that the office e-mail replies to the questions to the Indivisible TPM mailbox. Indivisible TPM will be responsible for distributing any responses they receive to the other Indivisibles.
Highlights: we were able to meet directly with Senator Van Hollen and with Representative Sarbanes. We also had a good exchange with Congressman Raskin's staffer.
What the Congresspeople said: Senator Van Hollen asked that our group remember that for the moment, the main thing that Democrats can do is to block, it's hard for them to be proactive. He was very appreciative of the Town Hall and took our envelope with questions for his staff.
Representative Sarbanes spent about 20 minutes with us. He appreciated all the Indivisible groups' efforts and he said he also had meeting with Indivisible Howard County and Indivisible Baltimore. His staffer also spent another 15minutes describing the office's main focus and issues. Rep. Sarbanes stressed the need for the Indivisibles to stay engaged for the long haul and particularly around 2018 elections and get out the vote efforts.
His staffer provided us with a letter that Rep. Sarbanes had sent to Governor Hogan, requesting information about the effect of ACA repeal on Marylanders. The office particularly encouraged all of us to look for Rep. Sarbanes' efforts with respect to the House Democracy Reform Task Force. This task force may be an important focal point for the Indivisibles, as it works on transparency, ethics reform and getting special interests out of politics. We recommend our group and other Indivisibles 'follow' the Task Force for opportunities for specific direct actions.
Overall: We have some lessons learned. Even for a simple Hill drop, it's good to give folks a little coaching in advance. We could have been smoother in delivering our message when we had the opportunity to talk to offices, whether to Congresspeople or their staffs.
Also: SHOWING UP IS IMPORTANT. The offices all took note of the fact that we had made the effort to come by personally to thank them. We got name cards for a few staffers and we can follow up with them again when we have specific concerns, and if we need to get through with more than a simple phone call. We have shown them we can mobilize th