In order to spread the word about the People’s Pledge, we need to get people talking about it. One of the most effective ways of generating buzz is to write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Letters to the editor appear in both local and national papers and reflect the views of readers on items in the news. You can also write letters to your local public radio stations, weekly papers and magazines, and political blogs. For more information, you can read this guide to letters to the editor as well as check out our sample letter to the editor.
To find papers in your area click here! We’ve already identified papers nationwide and have their contact information ready. Simply click the paper and type your letter!
The most important things to remember when writing a letter to the editor is to keep it brief, timely, and topical:
- Be concise. The shorter the letter, the greater the possibility that it will be printed. Your letter should be under 200 words and can be as short as 7 or 8 sentences if you choose.
- Make the purpose of your letter clear. You are writing to encourage candidates for public office to take the People’s Pledge, an agreement wherein both candidates in a given race consent to pay a penalty if an outside group spends on their behalf.
- Try to include a time peg or local reference. If possible, mention an upcoming election or race in your area. Newspapers are more likely to publish letters that they feel complement their news coverage.
- Ensure that your writing is your own. Most newspapers will only publish original content to avoid republishing letters that have already appeared in other papers.
- Include your personal viewpoint. Letters that illustrate why individuals care about the topic are both more persuasive and more likely to be published.
Here are some general talking points you can utilize:
- In 2012, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren took the People’s Pledge. They reduced outside spending by 93% in their U.S. Senate race.
- According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside groups spent over $1 billion on federal races in 2012 and have already spent almost $100 million on 2014 races as of May 2014.
- Independent expenditures on federal races increased 5 times from 2010 to 2012, after the U.S. Supreme Court eased restrictions on unlimited outside spending in their Citizens United ruling.
- A 2012 Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll concluded that 8 out of 10 Americans support limits on money given to influence elections.
- The Center for Responsive Politics reports that almost 25% of outside spending on 2014 elections has been “dark” money, spent by political nonprofit groups that are not required to disclose their donors.
Once you have written your letter, you should submit it via email to the newspaper of your choice. Most newspapers also publish instructions on how to submit letters to the editor on their website or in their opinion section.
Please feel free to call us at Public Citizen at (202) 588-1000 if you have any questions. Ask to speak to the Democracy Is For People Campaign.