No matter what you might think about Claire McCaskill’s policy decisions, you can’t say that she doesn’t make a real effort to learn what her constituents are thinking – Tea Party, independent or progressive. She tours the state and she or her staff take on all comers. Her town hall meetings in the summer of the Tea Party were models of even-handedness. The same was true of almost all Democrats – they boldly went among the raucous and enraged and tried to talk reason – sometimes gently, and sometimes, as in the case of Barney Frank, by showing a little tough love – but few of them ran away from their obligation to their constituents.
However, now that the GOPers who were victorious in 2010 are showing their real colors, threatening to decimate Social Security and Medicare while trying their best to drive our country off an economic precipice in order to preserve tax breaks for the wealthy, what do we see? Folks are not only getting angry, they are more than willing to tell their representatives about it (see for instance this Paul Ryan town hall meeting). The resultant angry constituent meetings have provided a rude awakening for some of the worst offenders. But instead of listening to what people want and ameliorating their offensive policies, many of the GOP congresspersons are busy trying to figure out how to mute the voice of the very people they are supposed to be representing. They want to the minimize the embarrassment their bad policy decisions have caused them.
Take, for example, Colorado’s GOP Rep. Lamborn who has prohibited protesters from congregating outside his office – unless they are supporters. And then there are the cagy GOPers like Paul Ryan (R-Wis), Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) and Chip Cravaack (R-Minn) who have decided to charge admission to their ersatz “town halls” in order to discourage the shows of dissenting opinion (and outright anger) that have bedeviled them recently and might make it into even more embarrassing Youtube videos.
Bear in mind that these folks, none of whom seem to be to aware of the implications of accepting employment as a representative of the people, any more than they understand the implications of the first amendment, are all beneficiaries of the Tea Party. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the Tea Party is made up of folks who have spent the better part of the last two years spouting off about what the Constitution does and does not mandate. Funny how few of the fringers seem to worry too much about the Constitution when you get down to inconvenient particulars.
Of course, this type of one-sided representation is nothing new for those of us here in Missouri who live in Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-2) district. Brother Todd’s been stage managing his appearances for the benefit of the faithful for the past few years. Given Akin’s extreme positions, his skill with easy to manage video and telephone “town halls” and invitation only events should stand him in good stead during his run for the Senate.
* Slightly edited for clarity.