Recent weeks have seen a flood of media reports on Republicans facing angry constituents at town-hall meetings, so it’s nice to see the Associated Press point out that many Democrats have been dodging town halls altogether.
Specifically, AP’s Steve Peoples notes that Senate Democrats up for re-election in states that President Trump carried on Election Day just don’t want to show up.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), for one, sent a staff member rather than attend a Kansas City town hall last weekend. She will chat with voters this week via Facebook Live — a much more controlled environment, where angry mass shouting isn’t an option.
Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Joe Manchin (.) have also dodged town-hall gatherings, the AP reports — opting instead for teleconferences, e-mail surveys and speeches.
All this, when Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — have taken the heat, allowing left-leaning constituents to rage in their faces over plans to repeal ObamaCare, Trump’s immigration orders and so on.
Understandably, most of the heat is from the left: Liberals are genuinely worried about where Trump and the GOP Congress are headed and so are motivated to show up and vent. (And, yes, some of the fury is plainly organized by lefty groups like Organizing for Action and MoveOn — but that doesn’t mean it’s all “astroturf.”)
It’s true that some GOP politicians have also avoided town-hall meetings — a point regularly noted in stories on the drama facing those who don’t show up. But it’s still worth noting just which politicians are the most reluctant to face open questioning from the folks back home.
The reasons are obvious: McCaskill, Manchin and the rest just don’t want to be pushed into any corners. They don’t dare stare down the left, or they risk facing primary challenges.
But they also can’t promise too much to these voters — for fear of angering the majority in these Trump states.
So instead they choose “the better part of valor” — and hide from the voters.
Even that has its risks — the activists recognize the dodge. “Seems to me that all these members of Congress are afraid to face their constituents,” said Hillary Shields, who helped set up that Missouri town hall McCaskill chose to skip.
As several Republicans learned from avoiding the Tea Party movement a few years back, hiding from your voters isn’t a winning strategy.