Hoping to avoid politically damaging confrontations, most congressional Democrats have decided not to host open town hall meetings in their districts this year. Last summer, angry constituents, many of them echoing the complaints of Tea Party protesters, flocked to open forums to berate their elected representatives for supporting bank bailouts, health-care reform, and various other programs. (Watch Sen. Arlen Specter feel the wrath at a town hall last year.) During trips home last week, only a few of the 255 Democrats in the House held town hall–style gatherings. Should Dems be more willing to face the public?
Democrats should show more respect for voters: "For a bunch of class warriors," says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, "the majority party sure seems intent on setting themselves up as an American nobility." They're acting as if "mixing with commoners is beneath them." But the people who sent them to Washington to represent their interests are angry about Obamacare and the Democrats' reckless spending — the least liberal politicians can do is listen to what their constituents have to say.
"Milk carton Democrats in Congress still avoiding constituents"
Tea Partiers are the ones who silenced open debate: If you think this is an outrage, says Jeff Neumann at Gawker, blame the Tea Partiers. They're the ones who killed "civil debate" and made holding town halls an exercise in futility. Ask Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.), "who was hanged in effigy while speaking with constituents during the congressional break last summer." Under the circumstances, it might be wise for Democrats to stick to "scripted, invitation-only meetings."
"Tea Party succeeds in killing an American tradition"
It's a choice between two bad options: It's hardly surprising that Democrats are reluctant to be "loudly berated by angry voters," says Glynnis MacNicol in Mediaite. But "I highly doubt that the Dems will be able to keep themselves in the safe telephone zone if the Republicans venture out en masse." As town hall season really kicks into gear in August, Democrats may find that "the furor over their absence" is more damaging than "the furor over their presence."
"Is it going to be a quiet summer, after all? Dems scared of town halls"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
Subscribe to the Week