"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.
At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.
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Thursday, August 9, 2012
It's My Vote: I Will Be Heard
Congress' approval rating is still stuck around 16 percent, with the struggling economy and frustrations over congressional inaction likely keeping the rating at such a historically low level. How would you rate your member of Congress on the issues you care about? Find out by attending a town hall meeting and asking questions!
Your senators and representatives will be in their home districts for the entire month of August to listen to you, their constituents. In speaking engagements and town hall meetings with your elected officials,you have the opportunity to show up and ask questions that will hold them accountable to the people they represent.
There are ways to use a speaking engagement or town hall meeting to your advantage even if you're not hosting the event: by showing up, asking well-crafted questions, and educating the legislator and the public about the issues. This is called "bird-dogging."
So, what are you going to ask about? That's up to you, but here are three questions we've drafted for you:
Although the gender wage gap still stands at 77 cents on the dollar, with Congress' failure to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 and again in June 2012, our nation's fair pay laws remain weak and outdated. What is your position on the Paycheck Fairness Act, and what do you intend to do when you return to Washington in September to help close the wage gap?
Access to quality, affordable higher education for Americans is critical for the long-term health of our economy. It is estimated that by 2018 we will have added over 16 million jobs that require at least some postsecondary education. Students have already made substantial sacrifices over the last two years, forgoing year-round Pell grants and bearing the burden of changes to the graduate student loan program. Do you support maintaining funding for college affordability programs, student loan forgiveness programs, and Pell grants, and whatwill you do going forward to strengthen these programs that help provide access to higher education?
With 99 percent of sexually active American women reporting that they use birth control or some other form of contraception, birth control is a vital part of women’s preventive health care. The cost, however, remains a burden for many American women—which is why the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to require insurance coverage of birth control without co-pays is such a huge victory. Nonetheless, some religious groups and lawmakers continue to fight against this provision. Do you support requiring coverage of birth control without co-pays in employee and student health insurance plans?
Find out when there's a town hall meeting in your neck of the words, arm yourself with a good, incisive question, and go hold your elected officials accountable!
Tips for Being Successful:
Call the in-district office to confirm when and where the town hall meeting will be. You can look up your representative and the contact information for the in-district office on house.gov. Similar information for your senators can be found on senate.gov.
Find out where the legislator stands ahead of time on your issue. The legislator's website is a great place to start; then move to nonpartisan voter education resources like votesmart.org andAAUW Action Fund's Congressional Voting Record.
Write out your question in advance! Even if you're not reading off the card, it helps to be prepared.
Go as a group, so you can support each other—and so someone can take pictures and video of you asking your question! If your whole branch goes to the town hall meeting, you could wear the same color shirt, pass out AAUW stickers, and try to ask the same question—or two questions if you’re lucky.
Arrive early and ask questions early—be confident and assertive in taking a place at the microphone for questions. Remember: Your question is important and deserves an answer!
Always identify yourself as a constituent and AAUW member.
If you aren't able to ask your question during the event, try to be along the legislator's exit path. Shake his or her hand and try to ask your question then. You can also provide the question to the media, or ask the lawmaker's staff for an in-district meeting during the August work period.
Tell us how it went! Tweet the answer to your question, and send an email to VoterEd@aauw.orgto share your story. We also encourage you to share pictures and video from the event, especially if there’s footage of you asking your question!
We hope you'll attend a town hall meeting this summer and ask questions of your elected officials.In addition, AAUW has launched an ambitious and exciting campaign aimed at another key expression of our civic duty: VOTING! Learn about the It's My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign on the AAUW Action Fund website and through the biweekly campaign update—and get involved by attending a training event, sharing the campaign's public service announcements and social media feeds, or registering voters! Email VoterEd@aauw.org with any questions.