Editorial: NC's congressional delegation should face voters, not fear them

Posted February 22

A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017; Editorial# 8128
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

If there’s one place you won’t find a member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation these days, it’s a town hall meeting with North Carolinians. It seems they’d rather be seen anywhere than with their constituents.

Earlier this week, for example, Sen. Thom Tillis along with 7th District U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, were being entertained in Laredo, Texas by U.S. Sen. John Coryn and touring the Mexican border. Rep. Richard Hudson is in Europe

So, if you happen to be one of the 549,000 state residents getting health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act and all the jabber in Washington about “repeal and replace” has you concerned, don’t expect a chance to talk with your elected congressional representative about it. While Congress may be on recess, there won’t be any opportunities to speak to them in person.

Barely six weeks into the new congressional session and already there was a not-so-tongue-in-cheek “lost” newspaper advertisement placed asking if anyone’s seen U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. “Please return Senator Burr to his constituents by way of a Town Hall meeting or other suitable gathering,” the advertisement pleads.

It’s not that there isn’t time for such meetings, it’s just that many in North Carolina’s congressional delegation, like many others around the nation, simply don’t want to face angry and confused constituents.

They’ve seen and read the reports of the raucous confrontations and are doing all they can to avoid those difficult scenes.

“As of late, it has become apparent that some individuals who are not really interested in meaningful dialogue attend town halls just to create disruptions and media spectacles,” Tillis recently wrote to a constituent who was seeking a public forum with the senator.

It is unfortunate when our elected representatives fear a conversation – heated or not – with the people who elected them. It is not an excuse to refuse to deal directly with them.

Rather than hide from people who are concerned about important issues – even if some are seeking a confrontation – the North Carolina congressional delegation should show some gumption and reach out. Burr, Tillis and other Democrats and Republicans, should schedule a series of town hall meetings around the state to address specific topics of concern – including health care.

Further, they can use the tools of social media to conduct “virtual town hall meetings” where our elected officials can respond live and online, to the questions and concerns of voters. These tools should be used to make sure that the broadest audience possible has an opportunity to participate.

When constituents take to writing “Time to Town Hall” with chalk on sidewalks outside members of congress’s offices, the message is loud and clear.

Traveling off to Europe, Texas or handpicking constituents to talk with merely avoids the necessary discussion of tough issues and breeds suspicion, alienation and distrust of government and elected officials. That is the toxic stew democracy needs least these days.

It’s time for our elected officials to listen to what voters have to say. At the same time, they need to face their constituents squarely in the eye, say what they plan to do and take the praise or criticism that comes with it. That is what democracy is all about.


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  • Jim Tabor Feb 22, 11:26 p.m.
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    Of course you want Congressional representatives to appear at town halls so that your cameras can roll as your progressive pals and activists disrupt the meetings. The veil of fake news has been lifted and we all know it. The meetings should be limited to registered voters in the representative's district. Time limits on comments. Rules of order and decorum. Sargeant-at-arms at the ready. And if it were me, only print media allowed.

  • Teddy Fowler Feb 22, 2:31 p.m.
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    Inane opinion once again.... the increasing desperation and violence from the left is resulting in the lack of town hall meetings... if somehow the can learn how to be civil in their actions.... even quiet voices can be heard....

  • Michael Bawden Feb 22, 12:42 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    "The forums have faced threats of violence, prompting some lawmakers, citing security concerns, to cancel events after being briefed by law enforcement." NYT Feb 21, 2017.
    I guess the liberal bible NYTimes is "moronic" too.

  • Thomas White Feb 22, 11:59 a.m.
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    [quote=16544311]Post by Michael Bawden[/quote ] If you provide me with two proofs of legal identification, a bank statement and utility bill with your address I will make sure you are allowed an opportunity to talk either in person or via one of those telephone town halls with your representative. Having an opportunity to talk doesn't mean you get the chance to talk or that the representative will listen.

  • Michael Bawden Feb 22, 10:53 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    They work for those that vote for them. Lots of politicians have tried listening to those outside their voting base. They are not around anymore.

  • Michael Bawden Feb 22, 10:27 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    If you are a congress member, you want to represent the voters that vote in the district you get elected in. You would like to REPRESENT those in your district. Not those outside your district. That is precisely why the Constitution set up a REPRESENTATIVE government. Ask Renee Ellmers what happened when she listened to those outside her district. Ask Bob Ethridge what happened when he listened to those outside his district.

  • Raleigh Rose Feb 22, 10:19 a.m.
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    All citizens should be allowed and lawmakers need to remember they work FOR US, not the other way around. If they can't take the heat.....

  • Catherine Edwards Feb 22, 9:32 a.m.
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    National congressional delegates make decisions that affect the whole country, not just NC. They should account for that. Everyone should be let in. If someone is getting too unruly then they should be escorted out.
    But, fearing tough questions and boos to their answers is not enough to warrant their absence of a town hall. It's not just Democrats out there demanding answers, Republicans who are afraid of losing their health care are out there too.

    Oh and I can protest and paid too? Where do I sign up? Because I was going to protest for free anyway.

  • Michael Bawden Feb 22, 8:26 a.m.
    user avatar

    Absolutely they should face voters that are their constituents. The meeting organizers should have a registered voter roll book for the congressional district of congressional member. The constituent should show id and the constituant from that district should be let allowed in. Then the rent a mobs and activist trying to shut down free speech would be allowed to rant and outside the townhall meeting. The CONSTITUENTS of that district get priority access to their congressional leader. THAT would be a proper townhall. Non registered voters showing ID and and proof of address sit in back. But allowed in. Maybe have them register to vote while there.