Last spring, Claire McCaskill attended a meeting of Missouri Progressive Action Group (MOPAG) in St. Louis. One of the many items we discussed was letters to the editor, and Claire pretty much begged us to get letters in the papers in the collar counties, the counties that ring K.C. and St. Louis. She wanted that because those counties have such large numbers of swing voters and because people actually read those small local papers. But I know from experience how far any such pleas to write LTEs go. A super convincing plea might produce a flurry of letters. But the sort of efficient, dependable flow of LTEs Claire would like to see? Uh-uh. One plea or twenty of them ain’t gonna make it happen.
So at the next month’s meeting, I suggested that our group form a committee to see that the efficient, dependable flow of LTEs in the small papers in collar counties–and elsewhere around the state–become a reality. I wanted a committee chairman with a cadre of volunteers who would regularly pick a given topic for LTEs, decide on talking points, and always explain the morality that underlies our arguments. (Facts and figures alone do not convince voters. To do that, you have to touch their emotions and appeal to their morality. So, for example, a letter about businesses getting tax breaks and then shipping American jobs overseas might conclude that when someone (in this case, the taxpayer) helps you out generously, it is shameful to take his money, stab him in the gut, and walk away laughing while you count the money.) Once persuasive letters were written, the committee would see that they were distributed to appropriate papers.
Willy Kessler offered to head the letter writing committee. She and her–at that point–three volunteers agreed on some guidelines and decided they would not only keep track of who was sending letters to which papers but also record which letters got published and in which papers. They set about getting a complete list of papers with contact info and editorial policies and were about ready to start. … Then life intervened. Kessler was out of commission for a couple of months. But she’s back and ready to roll. She is calling a meeting on Tuesday to settle a few last questions and then get started writing.
The committee now has eight writers. They need at least ten, but think what they could do with twenty. If you have a knack for letter writing, consider joining them. You’ll get the talking points to make the process easier. And you’ll know that you’re helping convince persuadable voters that our side has the values they agree with.