The canned response

Just as I predicted, this was the silly, rather insulting response my husband, my friend, and I each received after doing the responsible thing and “writing our congressman” to express our views on the spendulous package. In this case, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter:

Dear Ms. xxxxxxx:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The concerns of my constituents are of great importance to me, and I rely on you and other Pennsylvanians to inform me of your views. I will keep your thoughts on this matter in mind.  Thank you again for writing.  Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office or visit my website at http://specter.senate.gov.

 Sincerely,
Arlen Specter  

Yes, I know, his office was no doubt flooded with mail. But do I have any hopes that my views will matter a whit when that bill comes up for a vote? Do you think your views matter either?

Plus, I contrast this response to a response I received several months ago when I e-mailed my U.S. Representative, Tim Murphy, when the last bailout vote came up last year. His response was just as timely, but actually said something, explaining his views on the issue and generally making me feel as if my voice was heard, whether or not he actually agreed with it. (I believe he did, but that is beside the point in this case.)  

Personally, I think elected officials should have to keep a log of constituent communications and vote accordingly when they get a large outcry to an issue. I bet that would encourage a lot more people to express their views when they feel strongly.

In the meantime, no lectures about “getting involved.” In the end, it’s 100 senators and 435 representatives casting whatever vote they feel like. The best we can do is watch how they voted and remember it come the next election. I will do just that.

When government accepts responsibility for people,
then people no longer take responsibility for themselves. 
                                                       ~ George Pataki

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