Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

020 Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators?

20. Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators?
Answers will vary. [For District of Columbia residents and residents of U.S.
territories, the answer is that D.C. (or the territory where the applicant lives) has no
U.S. Senators.]

If you are walking outdoors in the United States, especially in front of a university, library, or public building, don’t be too surprised (or shocked) if you are asked to participate in a letter-writing campaign to your U.S. Senator. American citizens who are unhappy about something that the government is doing can communicate (or speak) with their representatives, which include senators from their state. A letter-writing campaign is an attempt to get many people to write to their senator on a single topic. For organizations, writing letters to senators or other representatives is an effective way to do advocacy (or to show what they think and to tell the government how things should be done).

When the Senate is going to vote on an important topic, some advocacy groups start a letter-writing campaign to show that the issue is important and to try to get a senator to vote a certain way. When a senator receives many letters from his or her constituency (or the people who live in an area that the senator represents), then the senator knows that the topic is important for many of the people who elected him or her. This information might help the senator decide to vote a certain way.

Sometimes the people who organize letter-writing campaigns have pre-printed (or already written) letters that people can just sign (or write one’s name) and send to the senator’s office. Other organizations request (or ask) that people write their own letter. This is more effective than a pre-printed letter, because it shows the senator that that person cares enough about the topic to take the time to write a letter about it. Sometimes people also call their senator’s office when they have strong feelings about a topic.

If you are a citizen of the United States and you want to find out who your senator is and to get his or her contact information, such as their address, telephone number, or email address, you can go to the official website for the U.S. Senate and look at the list of senators representing all 50 states.


surprised – shocked because something happened but was not expected
* Marandah was surprised when her husband brought home roses for her last night.

letter-writing campaign – an attempt to get many people to write to someone on a single topic, usually to change that person's opinion about something or to ask him or her to do something related to that topic
* Virginia organized a letter-writing campaign to get the Senator to vote to renew the Clean Air Act.

advocacy – efforts to show people what one thinks and to tell the government how things should be done; public support for a cause or issue
* After their son was shot, they became involved in anti-gun advocacy programs.

constituency – the group of voters in a specific area; the people who live in an area that an elected official represents
* Senator DeFazio's constituency is growing rapidly as more people move to the area.

pre-printed – already written and printed
* The bank gives its customers pre-printed checks when they open a new bank account.

to sign (something) – to write one's name on something, usually to show approval or agreement
* Please make sure that you've signed the check before you mail it to us.

to request – to ask someone to do something; to ask for something
* The hiring manager requested telephone numbers for three of my previous employers.

contact information – information about how one can be reached, such as one's address, telephone number, fax number, or email address
* Do you think it’s a good idea to put your contact information on the Internet where other people can find it?