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Civics 101: The National Self Governing Will

In-Home Training
Course 4: Action

The National Self Governing Will 4: Action

Table of Contents
I. Introduction .................................................................................................................. 3
II. What Drives Prosperity ............................................................................................... 3
III. Contacting Your Elected Officials............................................................................. 4
Mailing and Emailing your Legislators ......................................................... 4
Tips on Writing an Effective Letter ............................................................... 4
Example Format Letter................................................................................... 5
Calling Your Representative .......................................................................... 6
IV. Writing Letters to the Editor and Opinion Editorials ............................................. 7
Common Requirements .................................................................................. 8
V. Stay in Touch................................................................................................................. 9
Write Your Senator ......................................................................................... 9
Governor and Congressmen Contacts ........................................................... 9
Write Your Representative ............................................................................. 9
Stay Informed .................................................................................................. 9
Stay Updated with what is On the Ballot in your State ............................. 9
VI. Blogging...................................................................................................................... 10
VII. Your Self Will........................................................................................................... 11

I. Introduction:
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on
would save one-half the wars of the world.
- Thomas Jefferson
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
- Thomas Paine
Given all the materials of this subject now in its culmination, it is up to you to take action to
protect your job security and prosperity and the future securities and prosperity of your children
and grandchildren.
This course is a simple one and focuses on the action that you can take to protect your job security
and to ensure prosperity to protect the future Self Governing Will of the nation by expressing
your own.

II. What Drives Prosperity?


The formula for prosperity has been made clear throughout history. Limited government and
individual liberties are the foundation of American economic dominance.
In the American system, governments are supposed to operate within constitutional limits.
Governments that do so behave in predictable ways, allowing businesses and families to plan for
and take economic risks without fear of interference.
Government control of entire industries, like health care, and unnecessary regulatory schemes, like
cap-and-trade, exceed constitutional limitations and harm overall prosperity because of the
uncertainty of government intervention.
A government dedicated to individual liberties is one that understands that private property is to be
protected, not taken or taxed. When they are allowed to make decisions about their own lives and
property, people will make some bad decisions along the way. But on the whole, individuals will
make better decisions than government institutions.
Obviously, people never have complete control over their propertygovernment always takes
some of it in taxes. Government does have a role to play, but we must remember that taxes
always limit freedom.
Every dollar government spends is one that an individual who worked for it cannot spend as he or
she wishes. Government must be a wise steward of our tax dollars and it must provide society with
fair rules by which to play. A stable set of guidelines is necessary, as is a national defense, but
government takeovers and big government spending are not. They harm good, taxpaying citizens,
and they harm the economy as a whole. We must continue to fight for limited government and
individual liberties if we want to increase Americas prosperity.

III. Contacting Your Elected Officials


Your representative in Washington, the state house, or your local government, your elected
officials want to hear from you. After all, they are responsible to you and you have the power to
send them packing if they are unresponsive to the needs of their state or district. Constituent
communication can have a real impact as it can sway votes and policy decisions that these leaders
make.
Using the internet, it is easy to find your elected officials contact information. Before you search,
think about the issue you are advocating and which of your representatives would be most
appropriate to contact. Is this a federal, state, or local issue?
To find your representatives contact information, you can just do a simple Google or Yahoo search
for their official website. If you are looking for a member of the U.S. Congress, then visit
www.senate.gov (for the Senate) or www.house.gov (for the House of Representatives). On your
elected officials website, look for a mailing address, phone number, email address, or a contact
form which you can directly fill in on their website. On time sensitive issues, you should consider
sending the letter to the nearest district office since letters to those offices do not take as long to be
processed.

Mailing and Emailing your Legislators


Your legislators were elected to represent you at their respective levels of government, whether at
the state or federal level. If you want them to truly represent you, you need to tell them what you
think. Letter (or email) writing is one of the most common tools for communicating with elected
officials. When writing your legislator, remember to keep it local, keep it personal, and keep it
concise. Here are some letter writing tips:

Tips on Writing an Effective Letter


Your representatives at all levels of government need to know how new and current policies
affect you, your family, or your business. If you are writing a legislator, you can let them know
how proposed legislation will impact you. If you are not able to personally meet, or speak with,
your legislator or other elected official, a letter can effectively deliver your message before he or
she takes a position for or against a particular bill. Here are some important tips:
o As you write, remember to keep it local, keep it personal, and keep it concise.
o Try to keep the letter under one page. If you go on for too long, your letter may be ignored.
o If possible, write your letter using letterhead to make the letter appear more professional.
o All legislators are addressed as "The Honorable..." Be respectful. Your opinion is likely to
be ignored if they are drowned out with disrespect.
o When addressing your letter, it is best to have room numbers and you can obtain this
information from the elected officials website.
o Identify the specific bill, or bills, you are writing about at the beginning of the letter,
with the official bill numbers. Do not write about more than one issue per letter.
o Mention your involvement with Americans for Prosperity (AFP). This connection

will help reinforce the message that fellow AFP activists may be concurrently
delivering on the same legislation.
o Tell them clearly what action you would like them to take. For example, do you want
them to vote against legislation, or work to modify a specific part of it? Ask for a
reply in which they tell what they are going to do.
o Be sure to include your return address with zip code. This way, your representative
will be able to verify that you are a constituent and send you a response.
o Legislators typically do not respond to correspondence from people outside of their
states or districts, so you should concentrate on contacting your own representatives.
o Keep it personal by using your own words. Do not copy and paste from a form letter.
o Try to remain polite in your letter and not to seem hostile. Do not threaten or use
offensive language. Also, do not write in ALL CAPS.
o Do not put off sending your letter. If you are writing about pending legislation, it is
not much use if your letter arrives after the vote. The earlier you are the better
because you could get your message to your representative before they have decided
what position they will take.
o Assure your representative that you will be following the issue and how they vote.
Once action is taken, such as a vote, send a follow-up message letting them know
how you feel about their response.
o If you do not receive a response or you find the response you get to be unsatisfactory,
do not become angry. Simply contact them again and clearly state your message.
If you disagree with your legislators position, send a follow-up. In your follow-up:
o Thank them for the response.
o Express your disagreement, refute your legislator's arguments, and make a new point, if
needed. Also ask them more questions that will force them to explain their position in
greater detail and send you another response.

Example Letter Format:


Below is an example letter format. You can use this to formulate your own letter or email to
your representative. Remember, a good letter format and grammar will make your message
easier to read.
Jeff Smith
1234 Fake Address Rd.
Nowhere, VA XXXXX
February 17, 2015

The Honorable Mark Warner


459A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Sen. Warner,
I urge you to reject the Reid energy bill and to co-sponsor the Johanns amendment to block cap-and-trade from being
added in a Lame Duck session.
Cap-and-trade energy taxes are a dangerous policy that threatens American jobs and risks our fragile economic
recovery. These taxes would represent a drastic change in the nation's energy policy and should not be slipped
through Congress during the Lame Duck session.
Senator Reid has removed the cap-and-trade taxes from his energy bill because he knows he could never get the
60 needed votes in the light of day. The American people will simply not support this policy.
Instead, Reid plans to add these taxes after the election, when senators - many of whom may have lost their
reelections or will be retiring - will be insulated from the voters. This strategy is undemocratic and must be
blocked.
Senator Johanns' cap-and-trade amendment (currently No. 4527) will block this strategy by establishing a point of
order against adding cap-and-trade to any House vehicle or conference report, unless the Senate has approved it
first.
I urge you to reject the Reid energy bill and to co-sponsor the Johanns cap-and-trade amendment. Sincerely,

Jeff Smith

Calling your Representative


Telephone calls are a great way to quickly communicate a message to your elected officials on
current issues. In some cases, there is also a possibility that you will be able to speak directly to
your representatives, such as when calling local officials. When calling the federal government,
however, do not expect to talk directly to your member of Congress. You can request to speak
with legislative staff or simply register your opinion with the staffer answering the phone.
When calling, follow the same tips as for a letter. Research the issue before you call. Be polite,
brief and to the point. Do not ramble on or move the discussion to unrelated topics. Phone calls
are the best way to quickly get your message across, but you should also send a follow-up letter
after your call, especially if you speak directly with legislative staff or your elected official.
Face-to-face communication (visiting your elected officials office) is the most effective
method of expressing your message to your elected officials. In some cases, you can try to
meet with your elected officials directly. If this is not possible, do not be disappointed to be
meeting with a staffer, since staff members are responsible for much of the work done in the
policy world and your meeting could be just as effective as one with an elected official. Your
federal officials also have local offices in addition to their offices in Washington, D.C., so
feel free to visit those offices as well.
o Call for an appointment Elected officials and their staffers work on schedules which can

fill up quickly, so call at least a week in advance to make an appointment. If meeting with a
staffer, make sure that they handle the issue that you wish to discuss.
o Time is valuable Arrive on time and expect to leave when your appointment time is
concluded. Call ahead a day before to confirm the appointment.
o Be organized Research the topic you wish to discuss and be knowledgeable about all sides
of the issue. You want to present your viewpoint, identify other positions, and the case as to
why yours is the right side. It is important to be honest and not to misrepresent the facts.
Personal anecdotes are extremely effective in showing why this issue is important to their
constituents.
o Be a good listener Listen and respond to their comments and questions.
o Ask for a commitment Ask them to take a specific action, such as creating new legislation
or supporting a pending bill. If meeting with a legislator, research what committees they sit on
so you are aware of what issues they typically work on. If they usually work on the issue of
your concern, then they will be able to take a wider range of actions for you.
o Leave a one-page fact sheet This summarizes the issue and your position for the elected
official or staffer. Bullet points can be a clear and effective format. Do not exceed one page if
you want it to be read.
o Send a thank you note Send a follow-up letter that thanks the official or staffer for the
meeting and restates your message. This will make your meeting more memorable and can
make it easier to schedule more meetings in the future.

IV. Writing Letters to the Editor and Opinion Editorials


Letters to the editor are an extremely important tool in the grassroots activists belt. They allow
activists to comment and respond to articles in local and national newspapers. While they may
seem trivial, many important legislators and policymakers keep an eye on letters to the editor so
that they know what the public is thinking about a particular issue. When writing a letter to the
editor, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:
o ALWAYS check with the newspaper or publication before writing the letter. Each
publication will have different guidelines for the writing and submission of letters to the
editor.
o A letter to the editor should be short, concise, and to the point. It should not exceed one
page (roughly 250 words). Newspapers rarely print letters that exceed even 150 words,
so try to keep it around that threshold.
o Be truthful and make sure your facts are correct. A newspaper will not print a letter if
there is misinformation contained in the letter.
o Keep it relevant. Write about an issue or article that was recently reported on in the
paper to which you are submitting your letter.
o Be sure to include your contact information (name, address, and phone number). Many
newspapers will not print an anonymous letter to the editor, and may call to verify that you

did, in fact, write the letter.


o Remember, your letter may not be published, but it was not ignored. Some publications,
the national ones in particular, receive many great letters and cannot print them all. The
editors and staff do read all the letters that come in, so keep trying!
o An opinion editorial (op-ed) is similar to a letter to the editor in that it is printed on the
editorial page, but differs in some key ways. An op-ed is generally longer than a letter to
the editor, and provides more in-depth analysis and commentary on a particular policy
alternative or article. When attempting to write an op-ed, you should follow many of the
same guidelines as for a letter to the editor. Be concise, honest, and relevant. Be sure that
your facts are correct, and be sure to include your contact information so that the paper
can get in touch with you. Here are some additional tips for writing an op-ed:
o As with a letter to the editor, always check with the publication to obtain the
guidelines for op-ed writing and submission.
o Try not to exceed 700 words. The general rule is the shorter, the better, but be
sure that you are adequately communicating your message.
o Do not try to make more than one point. Make ONE point and make it well. Do
not stray from your main argument. Also make sure that you place your most
important point at the top of the article. Readers may only read your first few
sentences before moving on, so make sure they read the most important thing you
have to say.
o Statistics are good and can bolster your argument, but do not let your overall
message get bogged down in a fog of numbers.

Common Requirements
o Letters should be addressed to the newspaper and must be unique to that newspaper. No
open letters.
o When emailing, do not attach a document. Your letter should be in the body of the email.
o Include your home address and business/cell phone number so that you may be contacted
by the editorial staff.
o Letters are subject to abridgement.
o If mailing or faxing a physical letter, be sure to sign it.
Washington Post:
letters@washpost.com
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20071
Less than 200 words.
Wall Street Journal:
wsj.ltrs@wsj.com
212-416-2255 (fax)
300 word limit.

New York Times:


letters@nytimes.com
(212)556-3622 (fax)
Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
150 words max.
Washington Times:
yourletters@washingtontimes.com
3600 New York Ave NE
Washington DC 20002
400 words max

Houston Chronicle:
viewpoints@chron.com
713-362-3575 (fax)
Viewpoints, C/O Houston Chronicle
P.O. Box 4260
Houston, TX 77210
250 word limit

Chicago Tribune:
ctc-tribletter@tribune.com
Voice of the People
Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL, 60611
400 word limit

Dallas Morning News:


http://tinyurl.com/25uysug (online form)
letterstoeditor@dallasnews.com
200 words max.
Los Angeles Times:
http://tinyurl.com/2en8kh7 (online form)
letters@latimes.com
150 words or less

Arizona Republic:
http://tinyurl.com/hjhyr (online form)
opinions@arizonarepublic.com
200 words max.
San Francisco Chronicle:
letters@sfchronicle.com
415-543-7708 (fax)
200 words or less
Philadelphia Inquirer:
Inquirer.Letters@phillynews.com
215-854-4483 (fax)
200 words max
Denver Post:
openforum@denverpost.com
The Denver Post
101 W. Colfax Ave
Denver, Colorado, 80202
150 word limit
Detroit Free Press:
letters@freepress.com
Editor, Detroit Free Press
600 W. Fort
Detroit, MI 48226
150 words or less

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
letters@ajc.com
150 words max
Miami Herald:
HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com
Readers Forum
The Miami Herald
1 Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33132
Seattle Times:
opinion@seattletimes.com
Letters Editor
Seattle Times
PO Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111
200 word limit

V. Stay in Touch
For every correspondence a representative receives they count it as the opinion of at least 100
people from their district. Your voice is important and does make a huge difference at the state and
federal level. Be heard.

Write your Senator


http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Governor and Congressmen Contacts


http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm

Write your Representative


https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Stay Informed
Read. Keep tabs on what your representatives are working on. Check into articles featuring your
senators.

Stay Updated with what is On the Ballot in your State


http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

VI. Blogging
Another way to share your thoughts with others is through a blog. A blog is a type of a website or
part of a website on which a person or persons regularly posts content, commentary, or links to
interesting items such as articles on news websites. Today there are millions of blogs on the
internet ranging in topics from politics to sports to personal lives.
Starting Your Own Blog!
It is easy to start your own blog and share your opinions with the world. First you will want to
define your goals and select a topic. There are already millions of blogs out there, so you will want
to find a subject or style that will make yours unique. Focus your blog on one of these areas:
o Local government. People are often shocked at how often government meetings attract
no one from the public or the press. The greatest threats to freedom and prosperity occur
when no one is paying attention and elected officials are not being held accountable, so this
is a great area to get involved in. You can work to keep budgets in check or report on a
local superintendent or politician.
o National issues, from a personal perspective. Venting on issues is one thing, but to be
effective you need to provide a personal perspective and explain how these issues impact
you and your family.
o Monitor the bias of local/state/national media. Here, you might write about all local
media, or a few state media, or just one national source. Focus on how they frame
stories, and what stories they choose to publish or omit.
Things to Keep in Mind
o Ask yourself: Is someone else already doing this? Can I do it better?
o Because the Internet eliminates geographical boundaries, you can choose to cover a
politician from across the country
Blogs can have a real impact on modern policymaking. Communications departments at
political offices and policy organizations usually monitor mentions of their offices in the
blogosphere. Even if your blog is not extremely popular, it will get read, which could lead to
you influencing policy. Here are a few examples of blogs having a direct impact on policy:
o Flash Report by Jon Fleischman. Fleischman originally sent out his commentary by
email, then later turned it into a blog. As Fleischman explains on his website, Over the
years, the list of subscribers has grown to include local, state and federal elected officials
and their staff members, political activists and donors, lobbyists and consultants, political
reporters, business owners, homemakers, and anyone with an interest in California politics.
What started as a couple of thousand has multiplied many, many times over.
o Burnt Orange Report: When AFP started its state chapter in Texas, new media in the
state was dominated by liberal points of view. At that time, a blog called the Burnt
Orange Report became extremely influential on events in the states legislature, with
many legislators monitoring the blog while on the floor before a vote.
o Trent Lott: At Strom Thurmonds 100th birthday party in 2002, Trent Lott expressed his
support for Thurmonds 1948 Dixiecrat presidential campaign, which had been based on

racial segregation. After the mainstream media reported and forgot about the story,
bloggers did research and kept it alive, eventually leading to Lotts resignation as Senate
Minority Leader.
o Dan Rather: In 2004, Rather reported on 60 Minutes about memos that had been
uncovered that brought George W. Bushs National Guard service into question.
Bloggers quickly questioned the validity of these memos, and the story was eventually
retracted.
o Harriet Miers: After President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court,
conservative bloggers spoke out against her credentials and lack of judicial experience.
Bush eventually withdrew the nomination.
Do I have time to blog?
Blogging probably requires less of a time commitment than you might imagine. Blog posts can be
informal and short just a link and a comment, or some action items. However, it helps to set
aside time every day or every few days for blogging. You can also start a group blog so you
do not have to post as frequently.
Where can I find more information?
o Blogging All-in-One for Dummies (2010) by Susan M. Gunelius
o Blogging for Dummies (2010) by Susannah Gardner
o For more advanced users: Problogger: Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure
Income (2008) by Darren Rowse

VII. Your Self Will


Consider Crazy Horse, which is completely independently funded. There is no federal or state
funding to support it. The monument is an embodiment of American Self Governing Will as much
as it is an honor to the history of Crazy Horse. Korczak Ziolkowski (the original sculptor) was very
aware of what he was doing and his monument was very much meant to honor American free
enterprise. Ziolkowski was an admirer of Ray Kroc, who was the visionary who turned an ordinary
burger joint into McDonalds through his own personal will, and by the willing nature of free
enterprise. The Ray Kroc sculpture was done by Ziolkowski and is at Crazy Horse. Both of these
men exemplify how influential one person can be to his or her community, state, and country with
a determined will and drive.

Every person possesses his or her personal will. Your will, when acted upon, drives your actions.
Actions make a difference. This persona will is inexorably tied to the sprit and the very will of the
nation. A self governing will influences the current and future condition of this great country.
What makes America great is this self governing will or the people that collectively is the will of
the nation. As a citizen of the United States of America, you should personify your own self
governing will and protect your opportunity for free enterprise by educating yourself of the topics
(past, current, and future), and then making your voice and vote heard. Your opinion, ideas, and
actions (the self governing will) matter and can influence and shape the current and future state of
our country.