A week or so ago someone somewhere (I forget; possibly it was in the context of the Planned Parenthood defunding threat; should I remember or be reminded I'll edit a link back in) pointed out wisely that, though politicians are inclined to devalue an individual vote in favour of their knowledge about majority votes, businessfolk are inclined to value each and every customer. Governing tends (even in proportional representation environments) to be pretty much win/lose; business tends to be "How much do I win?"
And perhaps more to the point, businessfolk own the politicians anyway.
So while writing letters to politicians remains a good thing to do, if you've lost faith in that as a solution, try writing letters to businesses instead. In particular, find out which businesses have been funding the politicians who support these evil laws.
An internet blackout may have stopped SOPA. (Or maybe it was the fact that big businesses signed onto the internet blackout.) But what stopped the Research Works Act was scholars worldwide putting pressure onto the company that had paid for that bill. (Never heard of the Research Works Act? And yet it got stopped without recourse to an internet blackout.)
In the case of the present evilness in Wisconsin, it appears that Scott Walker is heavily funded by ultra-conservative Koch Industries PAC. The Wikipedia article on Koch Industries summarises a bunch of other pro-'free market' political activism on their part, and helpfully links to the Industry Areas section of the Koch website. This page might also be titled "A list of things to boycott". Alas, Koch is friggin' big, and a large number of them are business-oriented rather than consumer-oriented. (I leave identifying the businesses they deal with in order to put pressure on them as an exercise for someone else.) But whether or not you live in the United States, you may want to email or snailmail and tell them that you'll be boycotting:
- LYCRA® fiber and COOLMAX® fabric; and STAINMASTER® carpet, ANTRON® carpet fiber, CORDURA® fabric, and COMFOREL® fiberfill.
- (in North America) Quilted Northern®, Angel Soft®, Brawny®, Sparkle® , Soft 'n Gentle®, Mardi Gras®, Vanity Fair®, and the Dixie® brand of tabletop products; (in Europe) Lotus®, Colhogar®, Delica®, Tenderly® and the Demak'Up® brand of facial cleansing products
- "hunting clothing and outdoor gear for men, women and children" from Matador Pro Shop's online store
Honestly? I suspect in this particular case it will have little effect. Koch Industries is big and diverse and privately owned by a couple of very rich white male ideologues. But it's worth a try, because at worst you're giving them fewer dollars they can use to buy politicians.
And in any cases, there are other battles where this tactic can work. Put pressure on the companies who fund the politicians. Put pressure on the companies who do business with the funders. Put pressure on the companies who accept their advertising dollars and on the companies who share advertising space with them.
This is not how democracy and capitalism were meant to work, but right now it's how they do work. So work it.