Politics

Hoekstra tells health-care opponents to swamp the state legislatures

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

For health-care opponents getting a busy signal when calling the capitol, Rep. Pete Hoekstra has a message for you:

All politics is local, so swamp the phone lines of the state legislators too.

“If the people in Washington aren’t willing to listen, if the Democrats aren’t willing to listen, then call your local state elected officials and tell them that you’ll hold them personally accountable to what Nancy Pelosi is going to do the American people in Washington this week,” Hoekstra told The Daily Caller of his “Make it Local” idea.

Hoekstra has taken to Twitter with a number of Make it Local messages, claiming that lines are jammed in part because some Democrats have taken their phones off the hook. The busy signals have also been attributed to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who earlier this week gave out the capitol switchboard phone number over the airwaves, encouraging listeners to call in.

In one tweet, Hoekstra wrote, “Switchboards clogged or turned off in DC. Problem? NO Opportunity! Call every state elected D and tell them how furious you are!” In another, he tweets, “MAKE IT LOCAL. Call D state reps and state senators. Hold them accountable for what Pelosi is doing. People loving this idea! Make it work!”

Hoekstra said he and other Washington lawmakers devised the idea. “I was talking to all the other members, we’re taking a look at everything we can do to try to influence this debate and we thought we had kinda run out of ideas,” he explained. “And we started hearing that Democrats were starting to take their phones off the hook and no longer taking constituent phone calls and we said ‘you know, where else can they call?’”

A number of Tea Party groups are encouraging their activists to go the local route too. In an e-mail to supporters last night, Tea Party Patriots encouraged those who oppose the bill to call and visit the local district offices of the targeted members of Congress. They also pushed activists to call state elected officials to “remind them that they have political influence and you want them to exercise it.”

It’s something Hoekstra said is an effective means of putting pressure on Democrats. “There’s no doubt that if my state reps’ phones started ringing off the hook on a federal issue they would call me and want me to know, and say, ‘Hey Pete, you know the people in Michigan are really feeling passionate about this.’”

Hoekstra, who is running for governor, flew into West Michigan for a campaign swing on Thursday and plans to be in Detroit on Friday, though said he’s prepared to fly back to Washington for the vote if called this weekend.