President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner both suggested contacting Congress in speeches Monday.
That's fine. Contacting your congressperson is a right guaranteed under the First Amendment freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances. But exercising that right now may prove difficult.
One of the most common ways to send such a message is by e-mail, with a link found on a member of Congress's website. But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' website was down for at least half of the day, her spokesman reported.
“There was too much traffic on account of the Boehner and Obama speeches,” Todd Winer said. “It pretty much crashed the system.”
Websites for Washington Reps. Doc Hastings, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, and Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson were also down for much of the day.
Members of local progressive groups, including MoveOn.org, staged a protest outside McMorris Rodgers’ Spokane office at noon Tuesday. When one of the protesters told a McMorris Rodgers staff member her efforts to send an e-mail to either Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor have been met with a “permanent failure” message, the staff member said GOP leadership e-mail servers had been down for more than a week.
Winer said he wasn’t aware of problems with leadership e-mail, and suggested calling Boehner or Cantor’s offices. A call to the speaker’s office was routed to patriotic music with an intermittent message to hold for a staff member who didn’t pick up for more than 10 minutes. A call to Cantor’s office asked the caller to leave a message, then connected to a voice mailbox that was full.
Kind of makes you wonder, though. Members of Congress say they are listening to the American people, and responding to their wishes. If the American people can't get their make their wishes known threw one of the easiest and most ubiquitous forms of instant communication, how can they back up that claim?