My heart sank. Literally. I felt a deep hole in the middle of my chest.
"I'm sorry. All lines to Senator Flake are busy at the moment and no one can talk to you right now. Please leave a message.......ooops, that part is chock full up so Good bye!"
That was the gist of the recording I heard as I dialed my junior Senator's office this morning. He'd replied to my "No on Betsey DeVos" email by telling me that he wasn't on the confirming committee, but that he'd heed my views if her nomination came to the full Senate. I dialed his office, intending to tell him that it was time to grow a spine, to deny a plagiarist a Cabinet office, to.... my dander was up, my mind was racing, and then I was sad.
It was an absolutely awful feeling. I can't march, but I can make my voice heard... if only I can get through to a human. Indivisible, created by current and former legislative aides, encourages phone calls over emails and postcards. Staff is obligated to answer phone calls; they cannot do other work when the phone is ringing. Disrupting the process is not a terribly bad idea these days; I was ready to join the fray.
Frustrated. Angry. Feeling disenfranchised. It was not a pretty sight.
"Once more," I said. "I'll dial it once more and then I'll allow myself a hissy fit."
And, I got through.
I talked and talked and talked and talked, telling the young man about my email exchange, about plagiarism and lack of knowledge and public schools making Americans and charter schools picking and choosing students and Prince Elementary School and when I stopped to take a breath he interjected that he would "be sure to inform the Senator of your concerns."
I spoke truth to power this morning. It felt great.
I went on to dial the Senator's Phoenix and Tucson offices, which answered quickly. I left the same sort of message with each staffer: We are making Americans in our public schools - let's do it well. The whole process took ten minutes, and while the kids answering the phone sounded somewhat less than enthusiastic, they listened because I spoke. Our Representative Democracy is not easy, but it's ours. It warmed the cockles of my heart to be a participant.
If you have the time, type YourSenator'sLastName.senate.gov in the search box and the phone numbers will appear on the linked web page. Indivisible suggests targeting one issue per contact, citing specifics if possible, and being friendly to the young person answering the phone.