Friday, May 5, 2017

The real reason for “no town halls”

I know that speaking to a member of Congress is unlikely to change that member’s mind. I know that speaking to the district director for a member of Congress is even less likely to change that member’s mind. I read The New Yorker.

But I went this morning to the office hours of Representative John Shimkus’s (R, Illinois-15) district director, as did fifty or so other voters, and we made our concerns about yesterday’s vote on the Affordable Care Act — and much else — heard. The director had no explanation of why Shimkus voted to repeal the ACA: he was on a plane; she was busy organizing a dinner for him.

In the aftermath of this meeting, I think I figured out the real reason why a member of Congress might choose not to hold town halls. When you meet with people only in ones and twos, they have much less opportunity to see themselves as members of a polis, as participants in a political community. Likeminded citizens have less opportunity to identify one another and find common cause. Citizens at odds on matters of policy have less opportunity to listen to each another and perhaps rethink their allegiances. (Imagine, for instance, hearing an argument for gun legislation from a firearms owner and hunter in your own community. It happened this morning.) Talking to constituents in ones and two means that there are, in effect, no witnesses, no one else listening and thinking and making up or changing her or his mind. No reporters either.

Related reading
All OCA Shimkus posts

[“He was on a plane; she was busy organizing a dinner for him.” I know: what?!]

comments: 4

Berit said...

"On a plane" at Certain Moments—it strikes me as very "The West Wing"!

Berit said...

Also, wait—I just now read your previous blog (thanks, Feedly!!!) about the surprising and fateful timing of a previously-scheduled meeting with Shimkus and the New ACA pass-vote. This was that meeting? He played the "on a plane" card for it? I feel conflicted. Am I even allowed to be outraged when Known Despicables do the most boilerplate Despicable Things? Or is that as impossibly juvenile as howling about the Unfairness of unfair things that leave one holding the sort end of the stick?

Michael Leddy said...

This was a second meeting. The first (before the vote on the ACA was scrapped) was at his office, with an aide. This one was at our city hall, with his district director. I’m outraged and will continue to be so. I wonder what his supporters will have to say when they see their health care vanish. In this district, 48,000+ people can expect to lose coverage.

Michael Leddy said...

I didn’t see your first comment. Yes, I didn’t realize how clichéd the airplane bit is.