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Writing Letters To The Editor

I posted this diary previously, but thought it would be a good idea to post it again. Last time, I promise :) I added a personal story too.

I have been a volunteer for the Obama campaign during the primary and during the general election in two states. I have been active in canvassing, phone banking, voter registration, and data entry. Anything I can do for getting Senator Obama elected president. When canvassing, a list of 50 houses usually takes about 1.5-2 hours, depending on how many people are home and how long you talk to them. However, I have also been involved in writing letters to local/national newspapers. Since the middle of August, I have had two letters published, the most recent one on labor day.

Some people are unable to give money and some aren't comfortable with canvassing or phone banking. This is one way to get involved that you can do at the comfort of your home.

Here are some tips on how to:

1) write letters
2) the use of the Obama campaign's Speak Out tool to send them
3) copies of my published letters

Personal Story
My father was born in Croatia when it was a part of Communist Yugoslavia. When he was a teenager, he became active in a movement that tried to seek Croatian independence by writing letters to papers in the diaspora. As a result, he faced prison time and eventually left his family behind and came to America. My dad became involved in Croatian organizations in America and became the editor of diaspora newspapers/newsletters. Because of this, the Yugoslavian governement blacklisted him from ever entering the country again. All because he wrote articles. They were afraid that he would be able to intellectually reach the minds of Croatians throughout the world, including within Yugoslavia. He was not able to go back and see his mother for 25 years, until 1990 when elections were held, leading to Croatia's independence in 1991. I tell you this beacause after telling me his story, my father told me this: "A Pen Can Be Stronger Than A Gun". I have always held this statement close to my heart.

By writing letters, you can reach thousands of people per day. Of course, not all letters you write will be published, but when they are, they can be beneficial.

When you write letters, expect responses by people writing back to the papers hoping to be published or on the website of the newspapers. The first letter I wrote, received 20 comments on the webiste. My second one had 67. Some comments were quite vicious, but hey, that's politics. Right?

Tips on Writing Letters

  1. Pick a theme. My first one was regarding McCain not voting for the recent medicare bill. My second one was McCain being blind to the economic realities. I recently sent one about the RNC's mockery of caommunity organizers. I sent it the day after Palin's speech and is quite similar to the recent ad that was posted here on Daily Kos.
  1. Research your theme and stick to the facts. I always include quotes in my letters because it is harder to argue something when it comes from their own mouths. Don't make any assumptions that people can nail you on later. One thing I did notice was that some papers do not include your citations. In each of my letters I included them so people can research it themselves. They did not make it into the letter. However, if you include where and when it was stated as part of the sentence, it will be published.
  1. Speak with you mind and your heart. It's one thing to be emotional when you write, but you also have to be logical and rational. If you are logical, you still need to show some emotion.  If you speak from the heart and not your mind, it won't work. If you speak with your mind but not your heart, it won't work either. They need to go together.
  1. Take your time and make sure the letter flows. Don't rush your letter. write a draft and show it to a friend or two to critique and make suggestions. Make sure it is not sloppy.
  1. Don't be discourged if it doesn't get published. They receive thousand of letters. But, keep trying and don't lose faith. As jpw told me yesterday,"Remember - even if your letter doesn't get published, someone at the newspaper reads it, and they do keep track in some crude way of how many pro-Obama letters they get versus pro-McSame. It can have on influence on the mix of other letters that get published, and on the editorial perspectives the paper takes. So - everyone - just do it! Write a letter or two every week - bombard the press with them, and we just might make a difference!!"

Barack Obama has a Speak Out page that if you type in your zip code, it will show you a list of local and national newspapers. Instead of going to each individual website, you just check which ones you want to send a letter to. You type in your information and copy/paste your letter just once. The website will then send your letter to all the ones you checked. It's such an awesome tool.

My Letters
Published July 14, 2008

Why vote for senator who doesn't show up to vote?

It was disheartening to read that John McCain was the only senator not to show to vote on the recent Medicare bill, which was both pro-patient and pro-physician. McCain's Senate spokesman stated that the senator would return from the campaign trail if his presence would make a difference. This is in contrast to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is recovering from brain tumor surgery and left his sick bed to vote, saying, "Win, lose, or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn't going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference."

It is unfortunate that McCain was not willing to risk a day of campaigning to vote on this important Medicare legislation that would protect our seniors and which passed with a bipartisan 69 votes.

It was also disheartening to learn that McCain has not voted in the Senate since April 8 and is currently the Senate's top absentee for Congress. As recent elections have shown, every vote counts and can make the difference. I will definitely vote in November because I believe that my vote is just that, a difference. The question is whether or not I will support someone who doesn't believe his votes have made a difference for more than three months


Published Sept. 1, 2008

McCain seems blind to economic realities

Over the last few months, John McCain has shown that he is out of touch with regular Americans. While Americans are struggling with foreclosures, his top economic adviser, Phil Gramm, stated, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession and we have sort of become a nation of whiners."

McCain also recently was unable to answer the question of how many houses he owns, while painting others as elitist. He owns seven. A few days prior, he told Pastor Rick Warren during a faith forum that his threshold for considering someone rich is $5 million. According to that threshold, $4 million is middle class. As jobs are slowing down, it was McCain who stated that since President Bush took office, "there's been great progress economically over that period of time." With the deficit at a record level, McCain admitted in December 2007, "The issue of economics is something that I've really never understood as well as I should.'' According to McCain, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. We cannot take such a risk.

Originally posted to Hercegovac on Thu Sep 11, 2008 at 03:30 PM PDT.

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