This week, civic-minded citizens across the country called their elected Representatives and Senators continuously, demanding action on votes and legislation. For most Americans, these phone calls have proven quite successful in influencing Congressional votes.
But as a resident of Washington, D.C., these calls serve as a cruel reminder that we do not have a Representative or Senator who gets an actual vote in Congress. And even worse, Congress can screw with our budget and local laws, giving us, in essence, the opposite of self-determination.
And on this day, Jason Chaffetz is our prime antagonist. As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he recently declared that he would use Congressional authority to prevent D.C. from enacting a law to allow terminally ill patients to humanely end their own life. Chaffetz previously led the blockade on implementing Initiative 71, a referendum to legalize the use of marijuana, which has cost our city massive amounts of tax revenue.Yes, this Congress has meddled in our legislative affairs on a whole host of issues, including gun control, abortion, and HIV/AIDS policy.
It’s a fun idea, but I don’t think it would make much difference, since he’s already demonstrated he doesn’t care what we think. After all, he’s not beholden to District voters for his seat in Congress. And while D.C. has fought for additional rights, autonomy, and statehood, none of these efforts have borne fruit. For the rest of America, they just don’t have the energy to care about this issue.
In the 2016 election, 209,589 people cast their votes for Representative Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd District. Though we can never know who exactly those people are, it is possible to gain access to the Utah voter database, which gives us voter status, party affiliation, phone number, and mailing address—enough to paint a pretty clear picture. And if we mounted a prolonged campaign, focusing our energy on just these people in this one district, we could make a significant difference.
“How much would this cost?” you ask.
It’s actually pretty cheap, relatively speaking. Access to the Utah voter database is a mere $1,050. Robocalls cost $0.01 each, so calling our target audience once would only cost about $2,000. Throw in a small volunteer phone banking army, and we could create some resonance that would send a pretty powerful message. As an investment, it’s chump change. Particularly when compared to the incoming revenue after we finally get to implement Initiative 71. But think about the ROI on Chaffetz losing his seat or his mind.
Now who’s with me?