Do you ever wonder if calling you Congressman really matters? Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but there are times when the sheer volume of phone calls gets their attention. Tuesday’s vote for House Speaker was one of those times. The vote ended in victory for John Boehner, but his win was small compared to victory won by voters who wanted him gone.
While Boehner ultimately survived the challenge to his leadership, there is no question that input from voters made a significant impact. When the House Republican conference met in November to choose the presumptive candidates, there was very little discussion of challenging Boehner, probably because few people were aware the vote was taking place. By the time the 114th Congress was convened however, people had lost any hope that Boehner would do what they had elected Republicans to do and wanted him gone.
Phone calls and emails to Republican Congressmen led to some members openly announcing their opposition to Boehner. A social media campaign to elect South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy as Speaker resulted in Gowdy saying he was not interested in the job, but by then the movement to oust Boehner had gained enough steam to get some attention. After a poll indicated that 60% of Republicans wanted a new House Speaker, the Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida put his name up for consideration, followed shortly by Louie Gohmert of Texas and eventually Daniel Webster of Florida. None of this would have happened if people had not let their feelings be known to their members of Congress.
What happened on Tuesday may not have changed the name of the House Speaker, but perhaps it did change the attitude of the House Speaker. According to a story in the Washington Examiner, the House leadership, including John Boehner, was rattled by the volume of calls demanding his ouster.
We’ve never been lobbied quite like that,” House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, told the Examiner. “We yesterday began a new era of circumstances, and one is that we have members who are going to solicit the outside in ways that they have not previously.
According to the report Boehner was so disturbed by the calls that he brought it up in a private meeting with the rank and file on Wednesday. At the meeting Boehner defended his support for Tea Party principles and indicated that he might reconsider the punishment he had inflicted on two members who had voted against him.
The big takeaway from this is that our phone calls do matter, and now they matter to John Boehner. If we allow ourselves to become discouraged because Boehner still won, we will be giving up valuable ground that we have just taken. The internet provides us with some valuable tools for disseminating information, bypassing the old news machines, and for communicating with each other as well as with those who are supposed to represent us in Washington. The power of the will of the voter has never been stronger than it is right now; don’t let it go to waste.