My first office was to Senator Moran’s office in late January. I heard about the visit through Johnson County MoveOn. Joco Moveon’s advice was to pick a subject you have a personal connection to, write a letter, read a letter to the staff, handover the letter to the staff. I generally have kept to that format because it helps me organize my thoughts.
Back in January I started thinking, what subject do I have a personal connection to? My father had died in the past year and before that he was ill and my mother was his primary caregiver. I saw how valuable Medicare is. I saw that it worked. I couldn’t imagine not having it at all or having to deal with a voucher system or other difficulties while you are dealing with a serious illness. So the gist of the letter was don’t take Medicare away from my mom!
So I write the letter, I practice reading it at home. The day of the office visit, I’m driving there; I have Hamilton cranked up in the minivan, getting psyched up. I arrive and there are a lot of people there. We cram into Sen. Moran’s office (some spilling out into the hall) and right next to me is a TV reporter and a big TV camera from one of the Lawrence stations.
At this point I have to say I am not a fan of public speaking. At all. However, I am determined. I had spent too long taking in information at home, stewing over it, grousing about it. So I am going to read that dang letter. I do get my chance and I read the letter. I feel good. I’ve done it, I’ve communicated with my senator.
After that, I can stop focusing on me and really start listening to others in the room. People telling their stories, giving information to their lawmaker on how the laws affect their lives or the lives of people they know. At every office visit I learn something from the people in the room.
I’d like to read a short letter I was able to slip into the hands of a very fast moving Kevin Yoder on his way into an interview with KCUR. It is very snazzily entitled, The People I’ve Met and Why You Should Meet Them, Too.
When a group walks through the doors of your office, we meet as a group, but we come as individuals. Some of those individuals are novices like me who feel it is time to take some responsibility and get involved. Others have been lending their voice, their knowledge to the democratic process for years.
There are Veterans, Military Spouses, Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Parents, Students, Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Engineers, Educators, Business People and more.
I’ve met people with incomes in the top 3% of Kansans and those whose lives are affected in a very fundamental way by changes in economic policies. Those with secure healthcare and those whose healthcare options are precarious. Those who bring statistics and those who bring valuable, often very touching, personal experiences.
I’ve met people who speak eloquently, loudly, quietly, passionately, nervously, boldly, and each of them want what you want: to make our community better.
Please come talk with them. Please attend a townhall soon.