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January 31, 2008

The Echo Chamber

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .

Subject: Piercing The Echo Chamber

Most members of Congress spend most of their time with other members of Congress, or with Beltway media types. It’s a small group of people, most of whom share similar opinions on a wide range of issues, with only a narrow margin of disagreement. It’s an environment tailor-made for Group Think. It’s an echo chamber.

I’m reminded of the woman from Greenwich Village who couldn’t understand how Nixon won in 1972 — everyone she knew voted for McGovern. That woman lived in an echo chamber too.

It’s easy for Congress to assume that “the people” want what Congress wants, if they never hear any different. That’s why we need to make them hear what we think and what we want. We need to pierce the Congressional Echo Chamber.

That’s the importance of what we’re doing in the short term. In the long run, as we grow, our aim will be larger. In the long run we want to overwhelm the Congressional Echo Chamber, with sounds of our own.

Right now, your messages to Congress are counted, and reported. Your personal comments have an effect on the mind of the staffer who reads them, and the gist of them may be discussed in staff meetings. We’re told by Congressional insiders that it only takes 30 messages on a given subject to begin to get their attention.

That’s all we’re trying to do right now. Get their attention. Make them think. We want those in Congress who are doing the right thing to gain confidence, and to make those doing the wrong thing feel a little nervous. And there’s one thing more . . .

We also want to make the sound of our voice constantly grow, to give Congress a queasy feeling that the ground may be shifting under their feet. That’s why we care so much about the number of messages we send to Congress. We want to see that number grow constantly, so that Congress feels a growing tremor.

Today, on the last day of January, we need just another 3,045 messages to Congress to have our best month ever. Let’s do that. Let’s make the sound of our voice grow larger. Here’s how to do it . . .

Congress didn’t do what we wanted. They didn’t allow the “Protect America Act” (PAA) to sunset. Instead, they extended it for 15 days to provide time for continued negotiation on a replacement bill. If we don’t tell them we oppose that then they will assume that their behavior is okay. Don’t let them think that.

PAA violates the 4th Amendment. It allows spying on Americans without a warrant. It should be repealed, or left to sunset in 15 days. Tell Congress that’s what you want. Use your personal comments to let them know you’re disappointed by the 15 day extension they just passed. Send your message here.

Also, we need to just another $214 today, to make budget for January. We hate to have to beg for such a small amount. We know people are focusing their money elsewhere right now, but we need to keep paying our bills if we’re going to keep moving toward our larger goals. Is there someone reading this who values what we’re doing enough to cover the whole amount? Maybe there isn’t, so it would be nice to have help in any amount you can afford to give. You can contribute here.

Thanks for being a party of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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