Congress shields itself from the people who put them in DC
Bloomberg Businessweek’s Julie Bykowicz writes a revealing article, At Town Halls, Congress Now Steers Clear of Voters. She provides clear evidence that Town Halls — where those we elected come home to face us — are now relics. Both parties are crafting controlled meetings with tight scripts, often excluding constituents and open mics. Too often, those folks we sent to D.C. to represent us now consider us the enemy, to be held at bay.
In her report Bykowicz writes:This summer is all about keeping a safe distance from voters and sticking to the party script. Before Congress left town, House Democratic and Republican leaders handed out “tool kits” full of talking points and specific event ideas, along with sample editorials written and ready to be planted in hometown newspapers. This enables them to stay within the preprogrammed Washington bubble even when they’re outside the safety of the Beltway.
Both parties’ tool kits urge members to focus on small gatherings with friendly audiences, keeping in touch with the public on Facebook and Twitter. Democrats were told to play up Obamacare benefits. “Find a woman in your district who has a ‘pre-existing condition,’ such as being a breast cancer survivor, and who has had a hard time finding insurance, and hold a press conference,” party leaders suggest. Talk about immigration reform in “meet-and-greets with successful immigrant entrepreneurs from the district or from the state. Have them tell their inspirational story.”
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a left-leaning Delaware Republican who’d held hundreds of town halls during his 20 years in Congress, recalls that at one event, captured on YouTube people started yelling at him about Obamacare “death panels” and the president’s “fake” birth certificate. Castle, who lost his primary that year, says a dozen colleagues who saw the video told him afterward, “No more live town halls. I’m done with that.”
Watch this example of citizen outrage when HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Arlen Specter (d. 2012) declared the Obamacare bill had to get “done very fast.” In this linked video, McCain insults a gathering of citizens in Sun Lakes. AZ U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick was actually so unprepared to respond to her constituents she was cheered as she walked out on a gathering she scheduled. One man yelled after her, “Don’t come back!” She lost the following election, but memories are short. Kirkpatrick, a liberal Democrat, was reelected after being ousted and is running again in Congressional District One.
This past week we exposed the gamesmanship that is being passed off as interactions with Arizona voters. Read McCain & Flake stage a one-way “conversation” and Tea Party News Network exposes McCain, Flake sham.
H/T Commenter Doc for Bloomberg tip