Writing my Congressman: Help from the Late Senator William Proxmire

The Late Senator William Proxmire


The Power of Political Connections

The late Wisconsin Senator William "Bill" Proxmire was very instrumental in giving my wife and I assistance in the late 70s. This happened on two occasions when I was first living in Taiwan, and then shortly after I had moved back to the United States. My mother first suggested and urged me to write to our congressman when my first wife was experiencing an immigration problem. Little did I realize at that time the power of political connections. After a brief biographical sketch of William Proxmire, this article recalls the great help provided by Senator Proxmire, and also the assistance of other congressmen to my acquaintances.

Senator Proxmire in Milwaukee in 1973


Eyewitness Testimony: Senator William Proxmire

Biography of Senator William Proxmire

William "Bill" Proxmire, my home state congressman, was a United States senator from Wisconsin born in 1915 who served from August 28, 1957 until January 3, 1989. Proxmire graduated from Yale University in 1938, and received a Masters from the Harvard Business School in 1940. During the Second World War, he was a member of the Military Intelligence Service.

After getting a second Masters, Bill Proxmire moved to Wisconsin and became a reporter for the Capital Times in Madison with the goal of preparing for a career in politics. After serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly 1951-1952, Proxmire was an unsuccessful candidate for Wisconsin governor in 1952, 1954, and 1956. However, in a special election to fill the term vacated by the death of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Proxmire was elected senator for the first time on August 28, 1957. My father was working at Allis Chalmers in a suburb of Milwaukee at the time, and I can remember how he talked about shaking "Bill" Proxmire's hand during the election campaign.

During his long career in the Senate, William Proxmire was reelected senator five times by very wide margins. Known as a critic of the Vietnam War, Proxmire refused to take campaign contributions. He was famous for issuing Golden Fleece Awards which identified what he considered wasteful government spending between 1975 and 1988.

Proxmire was married twice in his life. In 1946 he married Elsie Rockefeller, the great-granddaughter of William Rockefeller, the brother and partner of oil baron John Rockefeller. Proxmire's second marriage was in 1956. This biographical information is taken from Wikipedia.

Writing to a Congressman for Help

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Writing to Senator Proxmire

I wrote to "Bill" Proxmire for assistance twice during the late 1970s. The first occasion was precipitated by the handling of my first wife's immigration status by the old Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The second occasion was seeking help for government employment opportunities.

1. My First Wife's Immigration Matter

My former Taiwanese wife entered the United States for the first time on an immigration visa in July of 1978. According to regulations, the INS should have sent my wife an alien permanent residence card (green card) within a short time after we returned to Taiwan following a two week trip to my parents in Wisconsin. We anxiously awaited five or six months for the green card with no news from the INS. At this point, my mother suggested that I write to Senator Proxmire who was known for actively helping his constituents resolve problems with the bureaucracy. After writing Proxmire and explaining the problem that my wife needed the green card to reenter the U.S. a few months later, INS sent out the green card and we received it within a month. Without the prodding and intervention of the senator, I doubt that we would have received the green card that quickly.

2. Requesting Help for Government Employment Opportunities

In July of 1979, I permanently returned to the U.S. from Taiwan with my family. After spending the first few months unsuccessfully getting a job related to my chemistry college major, I was only able to obtain part-time work as a security guard and an ESL tutor. If I were to adequately provide for my family, it was going to be necessary to get a full-time job. Realizing that my previous Chinese training and Navy intelligence experience could be beneficial, I wrote to Senator Proxmire again for government employment opportunities with my most recent education and Navy experience.

To my surprise, within one or two weeks, the office of Senator Proxmire sent me a big manila envelope loaded with potential job opportunities with organizations such as the State Department, CIA, Voice of America, and the NSA. Having been a member of the Military Intelligence Service during World War II, Proxmire was certainly very familiar with my case. To make a long story short, I applied to all four organizations, and eventually was extended a job offer from the NSA.

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski


Acquaintances Writing to Congressmen

I have not been the only person successful in getting assistance from a Congressman. A number of my former acquaintances have written to Congressmen and senators with good results. One of my former Chinese instructors who is a U.S. permanent resident wrote to Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski who aided the teacher in resolving her son's immigration matter. While I was in the Navy, I recall that one of my ship mates wrote to South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond and was able to obtain assistance.

Writing a congressman or senator for assistance can be very beneficial when the bureaucracy is slow or negligent in doing its job. Just remember that you elect and send your congressman to Washington to serve you.

© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 28 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

For so long, now, Paul, I have entertained the thought of writing to one of my State Congressmen, about a myriad of issues, all relating to one main problem with bureaucracy & a family dilemma.

Your informational hub, has encouraged me to GET BUSY and do just that. Thank you so much. I needed that nudge!...UP+++

Doodlehead profile image

Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

That may work in many states....but I am on record as having written my senator letters with opposing views to hers. Too bad I didn't read this hub before. I don't think my senator, hypocritical lib Diane Feinstein would help me.

kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Very interesting! When you think about it, by helping their constituants those people do their job. I know that there is a all bureaucracy in place to help you before having to go to those important people.... but if it doesn't work.... why not?

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Good information based on actual experiences. Thank you for this. I have mixed feelings about writing to congressmen and women, based on mixed results. :)

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent and encouraging Hub. So good to hear about

elected public servants actually serving their public. :)

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for reading this hub, and I appreciate your great comments. Yes, definitely write your Congressman. If he or she values your support and vote, you should get a response and hopefully assistance in resolving your problem.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your interesting comments. If your senator is open-minded and values your vote, I think you could get her on your side to resolve any problem you have.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for reading and your comments. At times you have to bypass the bureaucracy if you want to accomplish something.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments and understand one can get mixed results when working with politicians. I was fortunate to get good results working with my senator.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thank you very much for reading. I appreciate your comments and am happy you liked this hub.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

I remember Mr. Proxmire and his Golden Fleece Awards. My wouldn't he be busy if he were with us today, handing out all the well deserved Fleecing Awards. Many for the amount of money so many members of Congress spend on themselves!

Glad Proxmire was able and willing to help you. Too bad we don't have more like him in our Congress today, but today's Congress seems more interested in helping themselves.

Voted up, interesting, and will share!

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

I too remember Mr.Proxmire. I have to agree with Au fait, if only we had men like him in Congress today what a wonderful world it would be!

When I had a friend trying to move here from Ireland with his family I wrote to a myriad of Senators and Congressmen and women. The only one who answered was Sen. Clinton and she couldn't do anything to help...but at least she responded. Actually I think one other (out of about 10) responded but I don't even remember who he was.

I'm glad your past experiences with Mr. Proxmire worked out so well for you.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait,

Thanks for taking the time to read this hub. I appreciate your comments and especially thank you for sharing this article.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thank you very much for stopping by and your very interesting comments. We definitely need more Congressmen in touch with their constituents. If they were, they sometimes wouldn't vote the way they do in Congress.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting, Paul, and I'm glad you and your acquaintances could get help from your congressmen. Political power has the power to move the slack bureaucratic machinery and the will ought to be there, though there are many who would not care, at least in my country.

Voted up, interesting. Shared and pinned.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


What you say in your comments about political power in moving the slack bureaucratic machinery is so very true. Thank you very much for your good comments, and I appreciate you sharing this hub.

smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 3 years ago from all over the web

getting the attention and help you deserve from a congressman is rarely seen. great share and interesting information. i believe in democracy and like to see it work from time to time.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for commenting on this hub, You're correct in saying that most Congressmen don't reply to their constituents. I was fortunate Senator Proxmire made time for me. I appreciate your great comments.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

An excellent article that everyone should read. I'm sharing it again with my followers . . .

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait,

Thank you very much for your praise of this article. I really appreciate you sharing it again with your followers!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Revisiting this article. It seems to me that if ever there was a time to write our Congressmen/women to the point of creating a deluge of mail on their desks, it is now. Time to stop arguing about same sex marriage and abortion, and start working on improving the job situation that was the big promise before the 2010 elections. Pinning to my 'Politics' board and will share again with my followers.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Au fait,

Thank you so much for revisiting this hub. You're correct in saying that the job situation should be improved. I appreciate you pinning and sharing this article again with your followers.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

We once had to ask for help from Congressman Alvin O'Konski. We immediately got his help, our problems were solved. Enjoyed your hub. Voted up and shared.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. I'm happy to see that your Congressman helped you with your problem. It's great you liked this article, and I really appreciate you sharing it.

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

This hub couldn't come along at a better time. YES - write your congressman for help solving government-related problems, to express your opinions, and to hold his/her feet to the fire to let them know you expect them to do their flipping jobs.

I worked on a congressional campaign a few years ago and made the trip to D.C. to talk to some staffers I was acquainted with to get their advice on what we needed to be ready for on day one if we won. We didn't. But the first thing they told me was: be ready to reply to your constituents. It is your number one job and one that will not wait for anything.

They expect to hear from you. Write, call, email, visit. Do it today.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

Paul, great article! One time there was an assault so horrendous that it made headline news. It was not in my state but I heard about it. It was reported that the attacker was going to get a minimum sentence. The victim was near death. It was such a wretched crime, I wrote about 10 different people. I got results. It does work. I'm glad it worked out for you! This person sounds like a good man.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thank you very much for commenting on this hub. People should be writing their Congressmen now during this time of the government shutdown. I'm glad you liked this hub and I really appreciate you sharing it.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author


Thanks for the comments. I'm very happy you liked this hub and thought it great. Bill Proxmire was a good man and a people's man. My mother especially liked him, and if it wasn't for her urging, I probably wouldn't have writtent the senator. I'm happy that writing to your Congressman also helped you.

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