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With the past election of the United States, I would have to say I have turned into quite the U.S. citizen. I have called representatives a couple dozen times, attended rallies, and last night attended my first town hall meeting with U.S. House Rep. Rod Blum.

I highly recommend that you attend town hall meetings now and into the future. Here is a quick summary of methods to listen and be heard with your reps.

Most effective ways to listen.

Your Senate and House representatives are your voice to the nation. What they vote for is essentially what you are voting for. It is important that you know how your representatives stand on each topic.

Last night at the town hall meeting held by Rod Blum, I found that town hall meetings are the most effective method of hearing the views of Rod. About 10 members of the audience were randomly chosen to ask a question and each of the questions were very well thought of by the person asking it. I was impressed. With each of the questions, Blum's answers defined how he felt on each topic. Hearing the responses from his actual voice with facial expressions define how he stands on each topic.

Out of the 10 questions, almost half were about the amendments to the Affordable Care Act that just passed the U.S. House. There was also one question about war. One question about Planned Parenthood. One question about the environment. One question about drugs. One question about the flood prevention in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Here is a quick gist on his stances on the topics brought up last night:

  • On health care, Rod Blum must assume that everyone has health care through their employer and they are happy with their jobs. "If you are currently covered, nothing changes", Blum repeated many times through the evening. "We are talking about the individual market here. If you are covered through your employer right now, nothing changes". Ok, Rod. But you didn't answer our concerns. What about the small business owners paying for their own healthcare? What about those changing jobs or going from college into the workforce? You did not cover those.
  • "I do not believe in global warming"...Well, I appreciate honesty I guess, haha. Rod Blum said that he believes scientists do not understand the Earth with its patterns of warming and cooling. He seemed to have some research on the topic, even though I strongly disagree, but at least I know his views on the topic.
  • "I am pro-life. I am protecting the unborn babies". Rod Blum's very generic response to a women's question about defunding Planned Parenthood. His response was similar to other conservative responses that I have heard thus far. Generic responses that are very stuck on 3% of the services that Planned Parenthood provides to women (and not paid by taxes). This was very concerning to hear because there were no facts involved in his response. It was a simply put, "I believe it should be shut down and women can go to a health clinic if they need treatment". Here is a link to all of the services Planned Parenthood provides to women and men, rich and poor all for health, education, and protection. I expect him to do much more research into this topic and talk to individuals that this decision effects.
  • Blum believes that marijuana should be legalized for medical uses. That was all that was said on drugs but I understand this because this topic has the majority of concern right now.
  • Blum believes the U.S. should have the most powerful armed forces in the world, we should treat our veterans well in Iowa, and that war is declared by Congress. Not by the President.

Long story short, I plan to attend many more town hall meetings when they are around. I now feel comfortable knowing how my rep feels about topics. I also feel concerned about a few topics as I believe he is voting on his own personal stubborn opinion rather than researching them. Walking home with this made it at least worth attending to me.

I was told about this town hall meeting from a friend of mine. I am not sure how to find out about future events. Please, contact me if you find a method to do so.

Best method to gain energy

Being a cititizen is extremely exhausting right now. There are news stories breaking out daily with news we need to keep up to date with. I read the New York Times every morning for 2 months at the beginning of this year until I had to stop from feeling so helpless and drained of my energy.

Since the beginning of 2017, I have attended 5 ralleys covering human rights and the environment. These ralleys are great for speaking up publicly but also to charge your batteries.

The ralleys I have attended had outstanding speakers from all over the Midwest. The energy, the emotion, the love that they gave to the audience is mind blowing. When you are feeling down, rallies a great way to get motivated and charge your batteries to making some phone calls to your reps the following week.

The best method I have found thus far to find out about rallies is through email newsletters I am subscribed to. Sierra Club newsletter for the environment, sign up for #Resist Meetups, find your state's Women's March newsletter for human rights topics to name a few quick methods on finding out about new rallies.

The best method to be heard.

Before this past election, I made about 5 phone calls to my state reps. for Net Neutrality issues. Since this election, I have made a couple dozen at least. I did a bit of research over the past few months into the best methods for reps. to hear the voices of their citizens and repeatidly I heard making phone calls was the best method.

So far, 100% of the phone calls that I have made my reps have voted the opposite. A perfect record I have accomplished but am not so proud of you could say. With this fact in mind, it is very tough to be motivated to thining that making phone calls to your reps indeed works.

However, I have met a few reps in person and they have all shared that they hear every single comment called into their office (unless the phone call is rude). This gives me hope that my voice is at least considered. Making phone calls is definitely a struggle for me but I know I must keep pushing at it.

I use website and mobile apps to keep up to date about topics to call reps about along with phone numbers to each of their offices. Save your reps phone numbers in your phone for the future. Don't feel afraid to call! They have staff M-F paid to pick up the phone from you. Always be kind and give a 20 second gist of your feelings.

All in all, I was very impressed with the town hall meeting. I thank Rod Blum and his wife for coming to the event last night. We have a long ways to go and I do hope that he heard our voices last night. He answered all of our questions with how he currently stands but I hope we motivated him to think harder about some of the decisions he is making.

This is what being a citizen is all about. Please, everyone. Get involved.