Contacting Congress

Recently your social media feed has probably been full of posts from your friends saying things like “Call your congressman/representative/senator and tell them what you think about x/y/z issue”. So many issues, so little time. (Do you ever wonder if your friends actually call? Or is that just me?) Regardless, if you’re anything like me, the idea of calling your elected officials makes you nauseous, anxious and stuck in paralyzed limbo. To call or not to call, that is the true Shakespearean question. Whether you have no idea who your representatives are or call so much that you feel like Adele yelling into the void, read on, because we feel you.

Adele-Hello (UtahValley360)
Me after every phone call to Congress

If you have no idea who your representatives are, no judgment. You’re going to learn and that’s what counts. Or maybe you think you know, but don’t know their phone number. Either way, Contacting Congress has everything you need. ( All you have to do is type in your address and they will do the rest. Contacting Congress will not only provide you with their contact information (address, telephone number, fax number), but also all the links you need to study up on them. Peruse their social media sites, learn about their committee appointments and see statistics about their district. (Which, really, is your district.)

Drake ( Hack: Save their number in your phone. (Really, I’ll wait.) It’ll be annoying to look it up every time. Plus, only having to click on their contact listing has helped me to use my impulsive side to my advantage. One click and the phone is ringing before you can even stop yourself.

Before you call, have an idea of what you’re going to say. This can be as simple as thinking it through, or actually writing it down. (I recommend having something written down because my mind tends to go totally blank at very inopportune moments.) If you’re calling about a more popular issue, there’s a good chance that people on the internet have written and posted mock scripts for others to use. All you have to do is insert your name and your representatives name and then you can read it word for word. If you’re calling your local representative (which I highly recommend), then there may not be a script available online. (Although it may be worth a quick Google search.) I usually keep it simple and say my name, address and which way I want them to vote on a specific issue. If you have a story or reason that you feel passionate, feel free to tack that on the end.

Life Hack: Does the idea of actually having to talk to an office staffer make you feel like you’d Call me Maybe (Voucher Cloud)rather listen to ‘Call Me Maybe’ on repeat for the rest of your life than call? (This is 1000000% me.) If so, just call before the office opens. Nothing like guaranteed voicemail to help assuage some of that anxiety. Yes, sometimes their voicemail boxes are full. If that happens, I wait until right after the office closes and try again. Usually they’ve cleared the voicemail sometime throughout the day. (If not, I recommend joining in on to the complaining that is probably already happening on Twitter.)

(Bonus life hack: Start out calling a representative that did something you agree with. Nothing will make you feel more invincible than leaving a positive message. I like to end my voicemails to Bob Casey by yelling ‘Keep fighting Senator Casey!’ It makes me smile and I like to think that it makes someone in his office smile too.)

Gaga (

If, after all this, I’m still struggling to make the call, I offer myself the same pep talk. Even if I’m the most awkward person that staffer talks to (or listens to, if I’ve left a voicemail), tomorrow is another day and there will be another awkward person to take my place. Recently people have been flooding offices with calls and the time for judgment between calls is fleeting. And, even if they are judging you, you aren’t the one making the decisions that are causing all these calls. On a scale of awkward or hated politician, I will always pick awkward.


It’s a #CrookedWorld, and We’re All Just Living In it

2016 was terrible for a host of reasons. Prince died. Brexit happened. Independence Day without Will Smith. And that’s not even mentioning an election full of email servers, sexist comments and two amnesia filled moments for Gary Johnson. (Actually – those were pretty funny.) But, 2016 was truly a lost cause because of the one thing that none of us knew we were missing – the Crooked Media empire.

Pod Save America Outside Trump Tower
The Pod Save America gang outside Trump Tower (Pod Save America Twitter)
Like the rest of us, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor (and weekly guest host Dan Pfeiffer) spent 2016 obsessively following politics and trying to assuage the feeling that Donald Trump was consuming America faster than a man-eating virus. Except, while we were all sitting at bars and crying into our beers, they were hosting the Keepin’ it 1600 podcast for The Ringer. (In case you’re feeling nostalgic for a simpler time, The Ringer still has some of the shows available for streaming.) When the election news knocked us all down, the boys decided that now was the time to take their audience, and their charming sense of impropriety, in a new direction. Enter Crooked Media, which they describe as a “place to talk about politics the way actual human beings talk.” They started in January with one show, Pod Save America, and have since expanded to a roster of 5 shows producing 6 episodes a week.

So what makes this grouping so magical? A show built on the idea of three young white guys sitting in a room laughing at each others jokes doesn’t immediately spell success. Part of the appeal comes from the fact that, as their mission statement suggests, they talk more like your friends at a bar than the pundits on television. In a world full of confusion and political spin, everyone from the most obsessive to the most casual news consumer is looking for a forthright option. Most, if not all of us, are looking for smart people who can help make sense of a political climate that no longer seems to add up. Little did any of us think that we would find the straightforward solution in a group that proudly wears the mantle of being ‘crooked’.

Pod Save America Logo
We are all George Washington (Pod Save America Twitter)
Besides being educational, Crooked Media also brings an easy candor to conversations about hard topics. After 2016 many of us thought that we would never laugh again, but the company has unabashedly and successfully staked its claim at the intersection of scholastic and sarcastic. Pod Save America episodes include a run-down of the most salient news topics plus an interview with a leading politician, organizer, journalist or other noteworthy figure, which usually begin with the boys asking their guests the loaded and appropriate question ‘Since Donald Trump is president – how are you doing?’

This popularity paved the way for the corresponding show Pod Save the World, where Tommy Vietor showcases his foreign policy capabilities with today’s experts. Friend of the Pod (a status which we all covet) Ana Marie Cox now has her own show, With Friends like These, which discusses the different ways we can bridge divides, while activist DeRay Mckesson just launched Pod Save the People. This article would be remiss (and probably called out by the man himself) if it didn’t mention that Jon Lovett also has his own spin-off, Lovett or Leave It, which is a celebrity filled game show focused solely on the news. A strange combination that, as the title implies, either you’ll love, or you won’t.

In roughly five months, Crooked Media has grown from 3 guys with a dream (or, three and a half if you count Dan Pfeiffer) to a company with at least one of their podcasts consistently in the Apple Podcast App’s Top Ten List every week. (Specific streaming numbers are hard to come by, but they have almost 14,000 reviews on Pod Save America alone.) The question remains as to whether their blistering brand of information and irritation (mostly Jon Lovett) will continue to be relevant as the Trump autocracy (excuse me, so called democracy) continues to unfold. But, for right now, it’s enough that they are hitting a nerve (and a funny bone) in a way that the American people seem to desperately need.