When opposition to ObamaCare reached a fever pitch last summer, a number of Democrats in Congress went home to angry constituents — or at least those who had enough guts to hold town-hall events. Many Democrats simply chose not to hold them at all, or to hold staged “virtual” town halls in conference calls. Now with ObamaCare behind them and a tough midterm election approaching, one might expect these incumbents to reconnect with their constituents, but the New York Times reports that even more of them have gone into hiding:
The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.
If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.
It was no scheduling accident.
With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.
And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube.
Nancy Pelosi assured America that we would love ObamaCare as soon as it became law. Why then are Democrats putting themselves on milk cartons in their districts during recesses? If ObamaCare is such a great deal, wouldn’t these supporters be rushing to hold open forums to accept the love and gratitude of their constituents?
Speaking of Milk Carton Democrats, the Times notices that an original MCD has gone back into hiding, and points out her hypocrisy:
In New Hampshire, where open political meetings are deeply ingrained in the state’s traditions, Representative Carol Shea-Porter’s campaign Web site had this message for visitors: “No upcoming events scheduled. Please visit us again soon!”
Ms. Shea-Porter, a Democrat, attended a state convention of letter carriers on Saturday, but she did not hold a town-hall-style meeting during the Congressional recess. In 2006, when she was an underdog candidate for the House, she often showed up at the meetings of her Republican rival, Representative Jeb Bradley, to question him about Iraq.
Shea-Porter would not be in Congress at all if it weren’t for her histrionics at Bradley’s public meetings. She owes her position to openness and accountability, more than most of her colleagues. Shea-Porter’s repaying her constituents by hiding out and stonewalling.
For a bunch of class warriors, the majority party sure seems intent on setting themselves up as an American nobility. They want to exercise their power without having to account for themselves to the people they rule who send them to represent their interests, as if mixing with commoners has become somehow beneath them. The “commoners” need to send them a big reminder in November about who works for whom in the American political system, and Shea-Porter needs to be the first to go.