Last summer the town hall meetings across the country exploded with angry constituents who were livid that Democrats were trying to foist ObamaCare upon them. Now that ObamaCare is law, against the will of the people and full of nasty surprises, many Democrats have decided to chicken out on the town hall format all together.
The New York Times: 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.
Democrats in their fear of facing voter anger, are kind of missing the fact that they are in a Catch 22 when it comes to town hall meetings. If they hold the meetings, the constituents will no doubt chew their heads off for passing ObamaCare. However, avoiding the town halls only adds fuel to the fire, because it makes the Democrats look even more arrogant and uncaring.
Judging from the comments on the Times site, it appears that quite a few on the left are oblivious to the Catch 22.
Bravo for the democrats in refusing to give the neanderthals from the Tea Party their Warhollian twenty minutes of fame. They create a circus atmosphere at these meetings because, after all, they are the clowns. By the way, it's about time that the Times stop giving them attention out of proportion to their numbers.
This was inevitable. An organized vocal minority had taken advantage of the town hall meeting format, drowning out other voices, and turning them into circuses. I expect some will be claiming in these comments that not holding town halls is a running away from the constituency. But, in reality, given this unfortunate situation, representatives have to turn to formats less easily exploited in this way, *in order to* talk to a more representative cross section of the constituency.
Via: The New York Times