There are ways to talk with members of Congress without yelling

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In James Lynch’s article about Congressman Rod Blum’s town hall on May 9, I was quoted saying, “I want to be a calm presence. I want to thank him for coming. I think it’s courageous for him to come out and keep doing town halls.”

I am a 15-year-old with a pre-existing condition, and my self-employed family has health insurance through Medicaid expansion, so, like many at this town hall, my family and I are very personally affected by Blum’s vote, and it’s important as his constituents to let him know that. Some people choose to do this by making lots of noise, which isn’t really my style.

Our country is extremely polarized right now and the American people are feeling hurt and betrayed by our government. From the Commander in Chief’s tweets, to members of Congress across the aisle from each other, to constituents with opposing views, it seems the only thing we know how to do is stand up and shout, hoping that someone will listen. Yelling is one way to get someone’s attention, but it’s not a great for having a real conversation. If we can’t hear each other, nothing will change. And, clearly, something needs to change.

As a young person, this is not the country I want to live in. I want to provoke change in a different way; not just by making noise, but by making a lasting impact.

By being part of a grass roots advocacy team, I make an impact by researching the issues that matter to me, writing letters to the editor, calling and emailing my members of Congress, and arranging meetings with them and their staff members. In short, I’ve been making lasting connections and building real relationships with the people who represent me in Washington, respectfully telling them what I think, even when we don’t agree. After two years, Congressman Blum, Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst all know and recognize me. I want them to think of me when they cast their votes.

So, if making lots of noise isn’t your style either, you can still participate in representative democracy and make change happen by doing the same things I’m doing. If you need help getting started, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is a great resource (www.fcnl.org/).

• Sam Bruxvoort Colligan lives in Strawberry Point

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