“As of late, it has become apparent that some individuals who are not really interested in meaningful dialogue attend town halls just to create disruptions and media spectacles.”
“This is particularly unfortunate because it leads to a scenario in which only the loudest voices in the room can be heard and very little meaningful discussion can actually occur.”
“While I am certain you have no interest in being a part of such a session, clearly some folks have intentions that are not as pure as yours.”
These statements are excerpted from a letter by North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, in which he responds to an activist’s question as to whether he will hold a town hall meeting in North Carolina. Clearly, he is not interested, and not without reason.
Throughout the country, Republican town hall meetings have been disrupted by rowdy protests. This has left Republican members of congress with cold feet, particularly in Utah, where protesters engaged in such noteworthy disruptions as “surrounding a car” and denying members of their Congressional District from engaging their Congressman, according to a release by the Utah Republican Party.
However, it seems that the root cause of these protestations is the fact that voters are overwhelmingly fed-up with Republican politicians not doing their jobs. When Marco Rubio, a Republican Congressman from Florida, was found by a constituent to be lying about his whereabouts – saying he would be in Europe while he was really still in Florida – this only fueled a bigger fire.
Rubio had previously refused to show up at his own town hall in Florida, claiming his trip abroad was his reason for missing the event. Later, when he was found to have been lying, he said that town halls contain people who “get rude and stupid.”
It seems like Republicans would get a lot further by being honest, rather than lying to their respective voters about their location and insulting the people who may or may not have voted for them.
Sure, the town halls may get rowdy, and people might act “rude,” but that’s the nature of the job. If they were not ready to deal with an unhappy electorate, they either should have refused the job in the first place, or not have crafted policies which negatively impact the country.
By refusing to hold open dialogues with citizens, Republicans in Congress are directly contributing to the public’s negative view of the government. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The government has been broken for a very long time, and while the Republicans’ refusal to hold town meetings are not a root cause, they are, indeed, a symptom which is leading to a more aware public.
Donald Trump has lied about “draining the swamp,” appointing millionaires and billionaires with corporate interests to top government positions. He has lied about not funding the border wall between Mexico and the United States with tax payers’ money – certainly, Mexico will not be paying for it.
Wouldn’t Republicans like not to be a part of the problem?
If congressional Republicans were to open up dialogues with disappointed progressives and conservatives alike, they would bring a sense of integrity back to their own party, and to the country’s political landscape as a whole.
If they were to adopt some of the more populist sentiments that their party’s own presidential candidate has now cast aside, they would find themselves to be in the good graces of the public more than ever before. This could all be communicated in town halls to the citizens who elected them.
Creating this barrier between voters and politicians is a sure way to produce social unrest. If they think the town halls are unruly, they had better buckle up, because things are going to get much worse for them.
For a party that seems to hate rioting so much, they have no problem creating social conditions which lead to public unrest, all while refusing to let a disenfranchised population voice their concerns.
To compromise, some Republican politicians have held teleconferences with voters, rather than a physical town hall meeting. This is better than nothing, but still proves to be inaccessible to many who may not have phones or internet service.
It is beginning to seem like the United States is on the fast-track to a new Gilded Age, in which we are one step away from being a pure oligarchy, and the politicians are so systematically entrenched in their positions, that they do not even have to worry about not being re-elected.
Every day, we move closer to that reality, and in many ways, we are there already. Republicans, however, could take us a step in the right direction by attending and holding town halls with voters. It seems unlikely, however, that this will occur.