We live in a time of political upheaval when speaking up is more important than ever. But putting your feelings on policy into words is a complicated process, which is probably why petitions have become so wildly popular. It's easier to sign your name to an idea than to express it yourself—at least until now.
A new service called MyLetter.to aims to solve this for all of us.
Created as a micro-lobbying tool by Desh Weragoda, John Berry, and James Martinez, MyLetter helps users create their personalized political action letter. It automates the process of writing and mailing a physical letter without resorting to using form letters. Simply select your issue, your position, three reasons related to why you support your position, and presto. Once you're done, MyLetter lets you review your letter. Then for $2, they will print and mail a physical copy of your letter to the political figure of your choice.
MyLetter's spokesperson, Morgan Jay Brown, told the Daily Dot in an email that each topic within the MyLetter platform allows a minimum of 45 million variations of letters that can be created. That means you won't be sending the same letter to anyone else (unless, perhaps, the whole world starts using the platform).
This variation is thanks to having a political writer, Sara Berlowitz, on staff at MyLetter. Berlowitz develops the content of the various topics offered to ensure each topic is given multiple perspectives. Brown explained to use how the process works in an email:
We have a political writer, Sara who develops content for the various topics we currently offer. She creates variations of openings, issue summaries, body text, and closings. That content is then linked to our algorithm that works its magic by solving the puzzle of taking all the text components and arranging them in a way that ensures no two letters are the same.
It's the only service that offers people a convenient way of making change through a personalized letter rather than a simple form letter. Currently, our system can create a minimum of 45 million variations, while some topics are up to 200 million. Over the next few years, as we continue to add to the platform, topics will be able to get up to trillions of variations and offer more customization for the individual.
MyLetter's co-founder, Desh Wereagoda, was inspired to start the service after a college professor asked his class to write a letter to their local legislator. He saw that after being given a few weeks to write the letter only a handful of the students in his class were able to craft one they felt comfortable to send. MyLetter was created to allow everyone to easily express their political points of view, regardless of their writing ability, without their letter being written off as a copy-paste of someone else's ideas.
According to Brown, ditching the form letter format was important.
"When form letters come across a politician's desk they are easily recognizable even if they are physically mailed in. Most form letter services only send an email, which can be easily ignored," said Brown in a statement. "Our service sends off a physical letter, which takes up space, so it can't be deleted."
We gave MyLetter a shot using randomly selected topics to see what kind of letter would be created. For my letter, I wrote to President Trump about Marijuana legalization (so what?) using the following issues: "Creates Jobs," "Reduce Racism," and "Reduced Presence of Drug Cartels."
Here is the letter they provided me.
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20006
Dear Mr. Trump,
You represent our country through your actions, and that can be extremely difficult with a country so big and full of so many different people. I know that you are trying your hardest for us.
The science confirms it: Marijuana is safe. Now it's time to legalize it and stop the drug cartels from getting richer. Put that revenue into the hands of the American people! I'm asking you to help legalize and appropriately regulate marijuana in the coming year. Please read below to understand my argument.
Legalized marijuana creates jobs. People need the chance to provide for their families in a legal way and opening up this substance to consumption means opening up more farm, retail, and distribution jobs.
We need to find a way to reduce the chance that a person of color is pulled over by a cop for no reason. Black Americans are 3.3 times more likely to be stopped on suspicion of possessing marijuana, even if they are innocent. Make our police officers responsible for their prejudices.
Legalizing marijuana takes away the power of many drug cartels. Many drug dealers use weed as a way to bond with buyers before pushing them onto harder drugs. When weed is taken out of the equation, drug cartels are a lot less efficient and will struggle to sell their harder drugs.
It could be extremely beneficial to our country and communities if we were to legalize marijuana. It is what we as a people want, and there is no sense in denying it any longer.
Respectfully, John-Michael Bond
As you can see, MyLetter's results are impressive. The letter makes strong, cogent points, and is written in a clear and professional voice. It's the sort of political letter most people wish they could write. And now, thanks to MyLetter, they can. It will be interesting to see how the service changes as it grows with time, but so far, they're off to a hell of a start.