Go Old-School: Get Some Stamps

In a time when legislators are so inundated with emails that they can’t read them all, what’s old is new again. Go get yourselves some stamps and blank postcards.

I heard this from a state legislator this week as he handed me his card: “Oh, I never check my legislative email.” I hear that all the time, from legislators around the state. A legislative inbox at any given time can have hundreds and even thousands of messages. Any subject line that doesn’t include a hint that the sender is a constituent is likely to yield a quick “delete.”

So spoil your legislators. Write to them. Give them something to read besides bills.

My town has eight at-large state representatives. (One town nearby has 11. I got off easy.) I have their legislative email addresses, and I use them, but I’m planning to use postcards more this term.

I went to my local office supply store and bought a box of plain postcards – the kind that can go through a printer at home. I will be hand-writing messages, but the printer-style postcards are economical. I bought a roll of postcard stamps at the post office. I have the legislators’ home addresses thanks to the state web site. I’m good to go.

Why postcards instead of letters? Because they cost 35 cents to send rather than 55 cents, which is what first-class letter stamps now cost. Also, a postcard forces me to get my message across briefly.

Someone more organized than I would probably think to address a batch of postcards in advance. If that’s you, I salute you.

Phone calls to legislators are always in style, if that’s your preference. Ignoring a call is definitely harder than ignoring an email.

No matter how you reach out to your legislators, remember to keep your message brief, clear, and courteous. If you write it down and put a stamp on it, so much the better.

A Bit of Housekeeping

I ask the indulgence of my discerning readers as I dispose of a bit of housekeeping. Please follow along and I promise we’ll get back to changing the world ASAP.

  • I’m no longer an Amazon Affiliate, meaning any purchases you make via links on this site no longer give me a commission. I recommend you channel your Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile instead, which will let you boost participating charities, including but not limited to Catholic Charities of New Hampshire (which includes Our Place and the St. Charles Children’s Home), Birthrights of Southern N.H. (Derry) and Manchester, and New Generation shelter in Greenland.
  • Sponsors and supporters of the blog help keep it going. You can still donate via PayPal or by check payable to yours truly. Nothing has changed there: such donations are not tax-deductible to you; they’re taxable income to me; and I use them only to defray blog expenses including tech support and travel to events from which I report.
  • New newsletter: about a third of subscribers to the old soon-to-be-discontinued Leaven for the Loaf newsletter have made the switch to my new newsletter covering multiple writing projects. The legislature starts up tomorrow, and bulletins are sure to be in order, so please subscribe today.

Thank you kindly. See you later this week with a report on the abortion statistics vote in the New Hampshire House.

Off to CPAC to see what’s up

I’ll be heading down to the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, DC for a one-day visit on Friday. While I’m down there, I look forward to hearing from (and maybe interviewing?) the authors of a new book on Kermit Gosnell and his crimes. That’s one book-signing I’ll stand in line for.

Yes, the President will be speaking, but as longtime readers know, that’s not something for which I’d travel to Washington. I’m going for the lower-profile events. I know from other CPACs that the most worthwhile material comes not from the big names but from the lesser-known speakers, from the conversations in the hallways, and from the breakout sessions.

The tweeting and Instagramming will commence as soon as I’m off the train Friday morning and will continue until I get back to South Station 24 hours later. Those so inclined are welcome to follow along at @leaven4theloaf.

Some notes from my trips to earlier CPACs: Ten Hours at CPAC (2015), Notes from CPAC 2014, Encountering New Faces and Old Friends (2013)

Seen at CPAC, day 2: a pair of showstoppers

I tweeted this morning that the three biggest hallway traffic stoppers up to that point were Allen West, Allen West, and Allen West.

Then came Senator Rand Paul. I got a clue about what was coming when I stopped by his book-signing session. The crowd was big (and young), and a pair of unsmiling young female bouncers sharply cut off anyone taking personal photos. I quickly brandished my blogger credential, and they left me in peace.

As the time for Sen. Paul’s speech approached, the ballroom with the main stage gradually filled up. Some of those people came to hear former senator Rick Santorum, who spoke immediately before Sen. Paul and who has a loyal following of his own. When Sen. Paul took the stage, however, there was no doubt the boss was in the house. Those of us in the media center in the back of the room had to content ourselves with glimpses of images of the senator on jumbo screens, occasionally visible through the sea of standing people.

As for the hallway outside the ballroom once Sen. Paul’s speech was over, the exiting crowd (I felt sorry for the next speaker) jammed it solidly. What’s usually a 60-second walk to the main staircase took about seven minutes.

Sen. Paul won last year’s CPAC straw poll. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he were to take bragging rights again when this year’s poll results are announced tomorrow.

 

 

SoCons & libertarians: Can we all just (sort of) get along?

There were two lively panels at CPAC today, meaning two panels that actually featured people with opposing views who aired their differences (in a civil manner, I might add). One involved the tension between national security and privacy. The other, much more relevant to the life issues, was about whether social conservatives and libertarians can ever get along. The discussion among the four men on that panel included reaction to the suggestion that lightening up on the social issues is the only way to make the GOP appeal to the rising generation. (The young people in the audience were by no means united in their responses to that.)

This topic interests me, because some of my closest political allies on the state level as far as life and marriage issues are concerned identify themselves as libertarians or “liberty Republicans.” We get along fine. Then again, a few fierce opponents of policies I favor are libertarian. Experience tells me that the answer to the can-we-get-along question is “sometimes.”

Michael Medved, author and political commentator, was the panelist whose ideas leaned most toward a natural synthesis of SoCon/libertarian. “Easing up on social issues is not an issue, because we both have a bigger problem: Big Government. What works, what we’ve seen work, is libertarian means and conservative goals.”

The example Medved cited was the right to life. In the past few years, many state-level laws regulating abortion have passed, and there has been a corresponding drop in the abortion rate, which is something prolife Americans have been working towards. The changes came at the state level, not federal. They came by legislative action – the branch closest to the people – not by judicial fiat, which has been seen far too often in state decisions on marriage. The changes in laws, Medved believes, reflect the gradual shift in public opinion that has come from local-level example and persuasion over the long term. Libertarian means, conservative goals.

I think he’s on to something. It’s not a complete treatment of the SoCon/libertarian tension, and it doesn’t address the fact that viewing the right to life as a local option makes it not a “right” at all. There’s no denying, though, that persuasion and state-level action have brought progress towards recognition of the right to life, while undermining the ’70s-era philosophy that pitted mothers against their preborn children.

And since neither SoCons nor libertarians are going away, insights like Medved’s are valuable.