Skip to content

Senator Ron Johnson’s Offices Need To Answer The Phones!

September 24, 2017

When President Trump made his views on DACA known a couple weeks ago there was a national outpouring of concern about the impacted young men, women, and children in this nation.  Like many others I wanted to make my views known to both U.S. Senators.

Failing to find a response other than an answering machine in Senator Ron Johnson’s Washington office I then tried his Milwaukee office.  That too offered nothing more than an option to leave a message.  Surely his Oshkosh office would allow me to speak with a friendly person from the Midwest.  But no, that too was only taking recorded messages from constituents.

Last week with news of the latest version of health-care moving towards a possible vote in the upper house of Congress I again wanted to convey my thoughts to both senators.  I did not wish to state to either of them a view on the policy side of whether there was merit in the block grants contained in the Graham-Cassidy proposal.  Rather I wanted to make it known in very clear terms how I felt about the lack of public hearings, lack of opportunity for amendments in the committee process, no fiscal note, or report on the number of those who would lose coverage.  In other words I wanted to have my voice registered and received about the need for regular order.

When I did not get a person to speak with at any of Johnson’s offices I then called his Oshkosh office 11 times over the next several hours (with the aid of automatic redial) and found each and every time that only a message machine was able to take the call.

When I placed calls to the Madison office of Senator Tammy Baldwin on both the DACA and health care matter I had a person answer, take down my information, and listen to my views.

I fully understand that when emotional issues are headline makers the offices of elected officials can be busy and the callers–at times–less than gracious.  As a former staffer I have had my share of such calls while working in a legislative office.  But that comes with the job because whether a person voted for or against the office-holder, agrees or not with the issue at hand, all constitutions deserve to be treated the same.

Ducking away from phone calls because the issues are frothy and not leaning in the direction that the elected one wishes must not then disallow constituents from making a real connection with his/her representative.   I wanted to make sure my views were understood as not relating to the policy itself, but to the finer point about the process of how legislation should be shaped and sent to the floor.    Having feedback from all points of the constituent compass does have an impact.

Former State Representative Lary Swoboda, when taking a bill folder to the Assembly chamber for a vote, had more than just the actual bill in his hands.  Our office made sure that the folder contained every letter that had come into the office regarding the bill along with hotline messages about how constituents felt.  For those matters where mountains of views were shared from the district there were numbers listing the way people felt back home with some of the more powerful letters or messages from both sides so he could better sense the views of his constituents.

I would hope, regardless of party, each elected official would strive to feel the same sense of guidance from the ‘folks back home’ as Swoboda did when on the chamber floor.  But that is not how it would appear Johnson views his constituents.   While it is true that I did not cast a ballot for Johnson, it is also true that he is supposed to represent the entire state.   Had any one of his offices picked up the phone they would have found a liberal Democrat who only wanted to convey a desire for regular order–which is an old-fashioned good government and conservative-oriented process.

One Comment
  1. Busy Signal Solly permalink
    September 25, 2017 1:27 PM

    Sounds like RoJo took a page from Scott Wanker’s playbook. During the union-busting crusade, they wouldn’t answer the phones, voice mail was full, and emails were dead letters. So much for representative government. But I bet they responded to contributors, as they did when they thought David Koch was calling but were pranked by a radio DJ.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: