No one wants to look like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), literally running away from constituents angry that he wants to take their health care away. Or like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who was shouted down in a speech this week by angry constituents. That kind of video is death to politicians. So they came up with a solution: no more face-to-face meetings with constituents.
Seven years after unruly Democratic town halls helped stoke public outrage over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans now appear keen to avoid the kind of dust-ups capable of racking up millions of views on YouTube and ending up in a 2018 campaign commercial. Only a handful of GOP lawmakers have held or are planning to host in-person town hall meetings open to all comers—the sort of large-scale events that helped feed the original Obamacare backlash in the summer of 2009. […]
Instead, lawmakers are increasingly turning to more controlled forums like telephone town halls, as well as Facebook Q&As and smaller, unpublicized personal meetings that cannot so easily be filmed.
John Feehery, a former senior House GOP leadership aide, said lawmakers need to take a "very cautious approach" when it comes to public events.
"In this day and age, real-life town halls are very dangerous for all but the most seasoned politicians," he said. "I think John McCain can get away with it and a few others, but most should stick to office hours, really good constituent service or tele-town halls."
Cowards. Telephone and Facebook town halls are just what they're doing, so they can mute or ignore constituents who are asking tough questions. Like Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who scheduled a 30-minute Facebook live meeting, but was there for just 11 minutes and only took eight questions, all of which had been vetted by his staff. “Tillis did not acknowledge any of the follow-up questions that popped up in the comments alongside his video, including requests for more details on the GOP replacement plan.” Big surprise.
What are citizens to do? What Rep. Rod Blum’s (R-IA) constituents did: hold a protest in front of his office and invite the local media. That way their stories get told to a much larger audience, and these cowardly Republicans are exposed for what they are.