Our rights don’t exist unless we exercise them – and when it comes to government, some of the most powerful rights we have are the right to free speech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

With this in mind, I’m starting a new project: #first100postcards.  And I’m inviting you to join me.

The first hundred days of a President’s tenure are always scrutinized closely, because they are foundational.  What is the new President going to accomplish?  How well is Congress going to work for (or against) the President?  What are the President’s priorities?  How much power is the President likely to have for the balance of the next four years?

For Donald J. Trump’s first hundred days in office, I’m sending a hundred postcards.

I’m not sending them all to the White House.  I’ll be sending them to the people in the best position to deal with the issue I’m addressing.  Sometimes that’s the President; more often, it’s my own elected representatives or members of certain Congressional committees.  The first one, for instance, is going to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Join me!  

For this project, you’ll need:

  • 100 Postcards.  I ordered this box of Marimekko postcards because I liked the designs and, at about $0.10 each, the price was right.
  • Postcard stamps.  Postcard postage stayed at $0.34 each for 2017 (unlike first-class postage, which jumped to $0.49 each on January 22).  You can buy postcard stamps at any post office, or order online and USPS will deliver them to you.
  • A non-water-soluble writing utensil.  Pencil works, or you can use a non-water-based ink, like that found in Sharpies.  A non-water-soluble choice helps prevent your message from washing away if the postcard gets wet.
  • Contact information.  At a minimum, you’ll want the following:
    • The address of the White House: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500.
    • Contact info for your elected representatives.  Common Cause has a tool that will look them up for any U.S. address.
    • A list of who’s on which committees.  Both the House and the Senate publish these lists.
  • A way to keep informed about what’s going on in Congress.  There are a number of apps out there for this purpose; I like Countable, which also lets you call, email, or send a video message to your representatives straight from the app.  If you like reading the text of bills yourself, try THOMAS or the Federal Register, which publishes the text of all proposed agency regulations.  (You can comment on any proposed federal regulation during its mandated “open comments” period.)

Why Postcards?

I’ve been emailing my representatives ever since Trump dropped his first Cabinet nomination.  It wasn’t until the week leading up to the inauguration that I decided to go with postcards.  I did for for three reasons:

1.  Postcards can’t be thrown away unopened.  They can be thrown away without their contents being thoughtfully read and digested, but they can’t be thrown away with zero sense of their contents.  The message is right there, on the card.

2.  Postcards are (probably) more likely to get notice than emails or phone calls.  I’ve seen several memes circulating the Internet that claim phone calls are the best way to get a representative’s attention.  however, according to several Michigan state legislators whose brains I got to pick as part of the Tomorrow’s Political Leaders program in 2004, they pay the most attention to handwritten paper mail, followed by typed paper mail, phone calls, and emails.  Postcards are easy to handwrite and cheaper than first-class envelopes.

3.  I feel better about them than emails.  Emails got old fast because every time I clicked “send,” my message vanished *poof* into the ether.  Did it even reach  my rep?  Is it sitting on a server somewhere?  I don’t know!  Postcards give me the psychological benefit of being tangible, which means I’m more likely to keep sending them.

The Plan: To send a postcard a day for the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.  And maybe after.  Join me.