By Jarrad Hensley, TSCL Legislative Assistant
Perhaps the most difficult task on Capitol Hill today is getting the attention of Members of Congress. Yet, the nature of grassroots advocacy lends itself as an effective tool for grabbing the ear of Congress on matters needing decisive action. For The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) and our nearly 1.1 million supporters across the nation, this is no different.
TSCL recently solicited membership support for three issues critical to seniors’ needs: Social Security Fairness (COLA), Notch Reform, and the Anti-Totalization Agreement. Collectively, these issues represent key legislation that TSCL believes will help protect the earned benefits for our supporters and formed the focus of our grassroots Congressional petition campaign. This campaign centered on educating and calling on all U.S. Representatives to support the: Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, Social Security Guarantee Act, Notch Fairness Act, No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act, and Social Security for Americans Only Act.
The campaign consisted of collecting and organizing TSCL-supporter signatures by each Congressional district. A personalized letter addressed to nearly each House Member was drafted to clearly convey the needs of our supporters and issue a call to action asking each office to look more closely at these issues. For those who have supported our causes in the past, these letters served as a “thank you” for their support. For many, however, the petitions signaled a clear and powerful message on behalf of their constituents that the time had come to make a concerted effort to stand up for seniors’ rights.
In what was a major organization-wide effort, the TSCL staff dispersed across House of Representatives offices to hand-deliver the message of our supporters. The hundreds of thousands of petitions that poured into the TSCL office from nearly every Congressional district were organized into a long list of vocal and concerned citizens. The effect created a bold statement and embodied the true spirit of TSCL’s politically-engaged supporters.
“The response we received from our supporters voicing their concerns through our petitions was extraordinary,” said TSCL Executive Director Shannon Benton. “That message was loud and clear: Congress couldn’t help but feel the fighting spirit and resolve of our supporters across the country.”
Legislators cannot effectively operate on their own without the input of those who elected them. After all, the Constitution guarantees “the right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievance,” acknowledging that calling upon our elected representatives is a fundamental principle of our democracy. TSCL’s grassroots petition campaign highlighted this freedom and successfully grabbed not just the ears, but the eyes and attention of Congress toward the concerns of millions of seniors nationwide.
What can you do? Sign one of TSCL's current petitions.