A Staggering Number Of House Republicans Are Spinelessly Ducking Town Halls And Angry Voters
This weekend marks the start of the first week-long Congressional recess since President Trump’s inauguration. Traditionally, it is a time for representatives to meet with the constituents they are supposed to represent. This year, 292 Republican representatives are completely skipping the tradition.
House republicans are ducking out of attending angry town halls
Some are substituting for online meetings with constituents, such as Facebook live events, which allow staffers to better control the kinds of questions and interactions representatives will receive.
The defensive measures are a response to an upsurge in organizing by Democratic and other left-wing groups pushing back against the policies of the Trump administration and the Republican-majority Congress. Many people contacting or showing up to their legislators’ offices are becoming politically active for the first time. Their organizing is frequently inspired by “Indivisible: A Guide For Resisting the Trump Agenda.”
The guide was built in part by looking at Tea Party tactics that successfully built a movement for far-right Americans during the Obama administration. It looks at the most successful ways Tea Partiers pressured lawmakers, and adapts those strategies for people now interested in fighting against Trump’s agenda by undermining Congressional support for his policy goals.
In addition to refusing to hold town hall meetings, often citing safety concerns, Republicans have responded to their constituents’ push for town halls and their criticisms of GOP policy by claiming that these demonstrators are not actually from their districts. Instead, they echo unfounded accusations that anyone protesting their agenda is being paid to do so by George Soros. One, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA,) has called constituents who have showed up at his office requesting a town hall meeting “enemies of democracy” and “political thugs.” Another, Martha McSally (R-AZ,) turned down an invitation to a town hall meeting from constituents, saying it was a “political ambush.”
The Trump administration has also accused pretty much anyone protesting their policies of being a paid disruptor. Naturally, they have offered no proof of these allegations, and all signs instead point to the fact that many Americans simply oppose the actions Trump has taken since entering office, and the support Republicans have given those actions. Indeed, the resistance to the Trump administration is very widespread, and it is always worth remembering that a substantial majority of Americans voted against this president.
The current situation is an inversion of the immediate aftermath of President Obama’s election. Some Democratic lawmakers also skipped town halls due to Tea Party and other right-leaning constituents who they said were disruptive or creative an unsafe environment at the events. However, Republicans are refusing to host these kinds of public events in larger numbers than their Democratic counterparts did, according to Vice News. In the first two months of Congress in 2015, Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events. In contrast, this year only 88 are scheduled, and 35 of those are being held by one representative, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. That means the vast majority of the 292 Republicans in Congress will not be meeting directly with groups of constituents this month.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
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Laura has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. In addition to Reverb Press, she is a contributor at Mic and Medium.