Having pressed others to call, I thought I should call and I did. The first time the line was busy. I kept calling until I got a “volunteer” who took my call. She politely but quickly asked me what I wanted to tell the president and I told him to veto any Patriot Act provisions coming to him for signature. I also urged him to take advantage of the current situation to re-evaluate and modify the Patriot Act and related legislation on the basis of the ten years experience we have gained since it was originally passed shortly after 9/11 and in great haste. She thanked me and hung up.
I know they are busy and if they are using volunteers the number available is probably small. I later learned from the organization that implored me to call that over 7,000 calls got through and the lines were tied up all day. I am not certain that tying up the lines with 7,000 calls is indicative of anything other than the limited number of volunteers, or possibly telephone facilities, available. Nor am I sure that tying up the lines will be understood as a reflection of how many people are concerned about civil liberties.
How many days a month do you suppose the lines are tied up by a particular interest group? My guess would be that it is a high number, at least 15, and the reports to Obama or whoever actually reviews the issues presented by the calls simply sends copies of the report to various political advisors who make what they will of them. It is difficult to think that this practice has more than a minimal marginal effect, if any.
If I had it to do again, I’d do it again on the grounds that not doing it may reflect a lack of interest to someone advising the president. But that’s a very strongly conditional “may.”