As a Brownsville native now residing in Washington, DC, I have observed the dismay or anger some hold toward our current political state and the atmosphere inside the Beltway.
These people usually harboring these sentiments feel frustrated and jaded because they believe their vote is not enough to enact change and do not act outside the polls, especially when our congresspeople cater to wealthy donors and individual bankrollers funding their campaigns and partisan war chests.
Besides contributing to campaigns or funding a party, methods exist to ensure that our fellow Rio Grande Valley (RGV) residents living in their respective federal congressional districts are heard past the ballot box.
Constituents from the RGV need to proactively do more in demonstrating their civic presence by contacting their federal representatives personally.
If you have a problem with a federal agency regarding a program you are a part of, the district office is available to assist you thanks to the congressional district caseworkers.
On the other hand, if there is a piece of legislation, a crucial vote on a topic affecting you, or an issue in which you are passionate about, you should call the Washington office, where they focus more on policymaking.
Now, in order to make your opinion heard effectively, ask the intern if you could speak to the legislative assistant or correspondent handling the issue so she can listen to a voice from a constituent. Lastly, the best way to have a congressperson consider your viewpoint is to meet with him personally in DC or when he visits the congressional district. In regards to people visiting the District of Columbia for vacation, I also implore people to stop by the congressional offices to speak with a staffer to sway the representative’s vote on a pressing national issue or inform her about the effects of legislation at home.
I want to remind everyone that the number one lobbyist a representative or senator can meet with is we, the people. By having more people engaged and informed about the legislative process and the organization of a congressional office, constituents can regain the leverage lost to those in the upper-income echelons of our society.
Alongside the Valley Morning Star, our fellow citizens should also read state, national, and global publications such as The Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, NPR, Time, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vox.com, The Economist, The Atlantic and The New York Times to become more aware and knowledgeable of affairs outside of the RGV.
In this manner, our constituents will be better able to fight apathy through enlightenment and better differentiate which issues have to be dealt with at the state level in Austin or nationwide in Washington.
Trust me on this one, I am as what the national media describes as a “Washington Insider.”
Sincerely, Alejandro Zendejas Washington D.C.