NIAC Action’s Guide to Attending a Town Hall

This summer will make or break the nuclear deal with Iran and could decide between war and peace. Congress is voting on whether to approve or reject the deal in September. In the meantime, they have left Washington for the summer and are holding town hall and public events in your local communities to hear from their constituents. Many lawmakers will base their decision on how to vote on the Iran deal based on what they hear from YOU at these events – how many supporters of the deal versus opponents of the deal show up? Which side is more organized and passionate? What kind of questions are they asking?

If you are planning to attend a town hall, use this guide to help you make the most of it.  Let us know if you are planning to attend a town hall and we can help you coordinate and answer any questions you may have.

Checklist for attending a town hall:

1) Find out if your Representative or Senator is holding a town hall in your area–use this tool that pulls together details about upcoming public events as well as comprehensive information about the agreement. Make sure to note where the town hall is located, what time to arrive, directions, parking info and if you need to RSVP to attend.

2) Invite some friends to join you.

3) Come up with one or two questions that you would like to ask your elected official.

4) When you arrive at the town hall, make sure you get a chance to ask your question!  Sometimes the Representative/Senator’s staff will be there to take your questions beforehand, but sometimes it will just be a matter of raising your hand.

5) Be respectful, but don’t be afraid to express your opinion!

6) Let us know how it went–did you get to ask a question?  What was the response?

Need some help coming up with questions to ask your elected official?  Here are some ideas:

1)  The President has said that Congress’ vote on the Iran deal is the most important foreign policy vote lawmakers will take since the vote to authorize the war with Iraq. Many lawmakers have come to regret that they did not stand up to vote against the war with Iraq. Will you stand up and vote in support of the nuclear deal to prevent a war with Iran?
 
2) If Congress votes down the Iran deal, many experts say it would be disastrous for the United States. It would weaken U.S. leadership with our allies and collapse international sanctions while freeing Iran from any nuclear constraints. I am very concerned that this vote will greatly increase the chances for war. Will you vote to support the Iran deal and, if not, what is your alternative to the deal?
 
3) Personal story: oftentimes the most compelling way to deliver a message that resonates with lawmakers is through a personal story. The best way to ask your question is to frame it with a brief personal story about how the US-Iran standoff has impacted you or your loved ones and explain why diplomacy is personal for you and why you support the deal. These stories must be fully developed (i.e. you should write it down and practice it before you deliver it). Then you can ask if the lawmaker plans to support the deal. 
 
For more information, visit our resource page on the Iran deal: www.niacaction.org/vote4peace

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