If you're a congressman this is very likely to be the hottest August on record. This is traditionally the season for congressmen to go home and 'listen' to their constituents. Often those listening tours had been filled with friendly folks whose biggest concern has been getting Dad's disability payment untangled. Such is no longer the case.
(R-Texas). “The days of you having a town hall meeting where maybe 15 or 20 of your friends show up — they’re over. You’ve now got real people who are showing up — and that’s going to be a factor.” PoliticoReal people. Not ACORN shills. Not party hacks. Real people with real concerns and questions about how Congress is handling and mishandling their lives. "I've never done this before" is a phrase I have heard over and over at various rallies. People are getting involved like never before and the tools to help them get involved have never been more readily available. In wonderful intergenerational moments grandchildren are teaching their grandparents about Twitter and YouTube.
Already YouTube is filling up with camera phone videos of uncomfortable and confrontational meetings between the rabble and their representatives. No pitchforks or tar and feathers yet but if congressmen don't get a clue soon, it's going to get ugly. Refusing to meet with constituents is not the best response. Legislators are going to have to allow a hefty amount of spleen venting AND they're going to have to actually have some common sense responses to questions that are going to be presented. Waving voters off as being too simple minded to understand the complexities of governing will be fuel, not water, to the embers. Telling them that it's such an emergency that time is of the essence won't work either. People understand that doing something can be worse than doing nothing at all.
What I know about embers from years of camping is that that fire can look cold in the morning but a scratch with a stick can reveal embers that are eager and able to create a conflagration. Voter discontent has been below the surface for a long time. Republicans and Democrats have added to the problem by not policing their own and accommodating bad policy in back room deals for what they want, by forgetting that they are servants and not masters, by forgetting that we do have a Constitution and citizens who can still read and understand its plain meaning. And let's not overlook the fact that many of these irate citizens are folks many of us predicted would feel the sting of betrayal for voting these folks into office.
Food for that citizen fire is a newly organized effort "Operation Embarass Your Congressman" from a Texan (thank God for Texas) which is encouraging folks to attend these Congressional town hall meetings carrying their own video equipment. This from the website:
"Simply use your freedom of speech in public forums to accomplish our mission. The Mission is this: "To expose the arrogance, ignorance, and insolence of our elected representatives." We want to do this on a LARGE SCALE - NATIONWIDE! These arrogant, ignorant, and insolent people have embarrassed America, trampled the Constitution, and ignored their constituents for far too long. Attend their townhall meetings during recess and press them with intelligent questions (unlike the main stream media), asked in an intelligent manner to see if they are really in touch and on board with "the will of the people."We're ready for your close up Congressman.
UPDATE: Apparently, our commenter from Obamaland isn't the only one peeved that the right learned how to organize community support and influence legislators. Bill Hobbs tweets the following.