You might not know it from the relative lack of national coverage, but Republican members of Congress are facing a lot of protests at town halls, local offices and golf courses this month. The protests are focused on the Republican lack of action on jobs and refusal to increase taxes on the wealthy. Here's a quick survey:
- Back on Aug. 12, David Dayen catalogued videos and local news reports on protests against eight Republican members of Congress.
- On Aug. 16, Laura Clawson listed six such reports, three of which Dayen had not yet catalogued.
- Dayen found four more instances of Republicans clashing with constituents on Aug. 19.
- An Aug. 19 article from The Hill included another three Republicans not previously mentioned in any of the links so far.
- Think Progress documented embarrassing moments at town halls for an additional four Republican members of Congress last week (one, two, three and four).
- It didn't take me very long to find this report about a protest last week outside Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick's office.
- Finally, Rebuild the Dream has info on as many as fifteen more protests, here, here and here.
These actions are truly widespread. As such, it's worth wondering why the media coverage has primarily been restricted to local news and not become a significant national narrative. A rationale sympathetic to the national political media would argue that these town halls lack the threat of imminent violence that was simmering in 2009, thus rendering the 2011 iteration both tame and repetitive as a story. A less sympathetic rationale would be that the national political media is simply differential to the angry conservatives, who are believed to have dominated electoral politics for decades and are thus allocated disproportionate attention.
Whatever the reason, this sort of organizing needs to continue. There have been hundreds of local news stories, and most congressional communication offices take local media as their main concern. Further, Republicans in Congress were spooked enough that some are now charging entry fees to town halls, while others are distributing lists of "troublemakers" to their colleagues, and many more have simply cut back on their public appearances. When members of Congress change their behavior based on your actions, then you have definitely made an impact.
There are still two weeks left in the August recess, and there are a lot more protests on the way. As Justin Ruben of MoveOn said:
"Even with the pathetic attempts by Republicans to shut out the public with pay-per-view events, members of MoveOn.org and the American Dream Movement have organized hundreds of protests outside of Republican offices and town halls in the last 10 days alone. We've even held protests outside their lavish golf fundraisers. Americans want jobs not cuts, and as long as Republicans continue their assault on the American Dream, these protests aren't going to let up, no matter where they try to hide, or tee up."