Come out, come out, wherever you areVery good.
The road sure has been rough for representatives when it comes to town hall meetings lately. Folks who are afraid of the president’s health plan, or are afraid the president is going set up death committees to kill the old people, or even folks who happen to have tough questions, have been busy shouting down their elected representatives all across America.
Some of these meetings have been real barnburners with in-your-face confrontations and even some scuffling. Health care is hot this summer.
Let me be plain: That is their right as Americans. Speak up, do so with and make your views heard, I say. All of this impassioned democracy makes elected representative a bit nervous, though, what with seeing the folks from the hinterlands so worked up. The questions are not easy and they won’t shut up when told to do so. Imagine that.
These politicians shouldn’t be surprised. American politics have been rough and tumble from the first time the Founding Fathers sat down and started drawing up the plans for this great republic. Even a cursory look at history shows that Americans take things to heart and are not shy about speaking up about what they believe in. It’s raw, it’s mean and it is totally American. And when Americans speak, it is the duty of their elected representatives to listen — and not just over the telephone.
Which brings me to Oklahoma’s District 2 representative, Dan Boren, D-Muskogee. He has adopted a plan that ensures he doesn’t have to face a room full of worked-up constituents who might not play nice. Here is Boren’s plan:
“Due to a large amount of interest in town hall meetings, (the) Congressman will be hosting a full series of telephone town halls starting just as Congress reconvenes in September. Telephone town halls are a new service that will allow Congressman Boren to reach even more people throughout the 25 counties of the Second District. They also are a very effective and efficient use of office resources. The first one is scheduled for September 8, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. and there will be three more to follow so check back often for added dates/times. Phone: 202-225-2701”
I read that as “no way am I getting in a shouting match.” Let me see, if he holds telephone town meetings he can hear from more people than if he were to take the time to come to a town like, oh I don’t know, McAlester, and face the music.
When this newspaper tried to talk to Boren about the telephone town hall (a colossal misnomer since there is no town and certainly no hall involved), the best we could do was a spokesperson who said Boren’s telephone town halls — in which constituents are being asked to participate in what amounts to a huge conference telephone call — are set to begin when Congress reconvenes in September after the current recess.
As to Boren’s whereabouts, the spokesman said, “he’s traveling.”
Too bad he’s not traveling his district holding town hall meetings.
I think Boren should buck it up, meet his constituents face-to-face, shout back if he has to, show the courage of his convictions and hold some town hall meetings. Come on congressman, this is America and you’re an elected representative of the people. Meet these people face to face and hear them out. You are a match for any of these shouters and you could use the power of your ideas to overcome doubt and misinformation.
Matt Lane is the editor of the McAlester News-Capital. Send him hate mail or encouragement to: Editor, P.O. Box 987, McAlester, OK, 74501. Call him at 421-2022 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, has scheduled a town hall meeting in McAlester for Tuesday, 8 a.m. at The Meeting Place. The announcement came after this column had gone to press. Check back for more details on the town hall meetings.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Here's an editorial from the McAlester News-Capitol, written by the Editor, Matt Lane: