WASHINGTON -- If you were hoping for a repeat of those town hall meetings last summer where Democrats were confronted by angry voters who opposed President Obama's health care bill, well, forget it. They're cancelled.
Democrats passed government-run Obamacare, despite strong grassroots opposition in their states and districts, and now these so-called "public servants" are unwilling to go through the democratic ritual of having to listen to what dissatisfied voters think of them now.
Congressional Democrats can, and do, read the polls that show a majority of voters want the health care bill repealed, which is why America's town halls will be empty this summer. Furthermore, voters are even angrier now than they were last year, and being booed and publicly criticized in the congressional run up to the midterm elections won't look particularly good for the Democrats in the local news media in what is shaping up to be a tough political year for Obama and his party.
So before Democrats headed home for the Memorial Day recess last month, party leaders gave them some blunt advice: avoid free-for-all town hall gatherings and unscripted Q&A meetings. Instead, try holding meet-and-greet events in "controlled settings," like the local bank or credit union, businesses, community service centers, union halls and other special interest groups.
It didn't require a lot of convincing. House Democrats are avoiding town hall events like the plague, The New York Times reported under a headline that read, "Democrats Skip Town Halls to Avoid Voter Rage."
"If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums in their districts" in recent weeks, the Times said.
Many Democrats are holding remote telephone conference calls that can reach thousands of constituents, while avoiding the anger and political complaints that end up on local nightly news shows or shown on YouTube.
In "Live Free Or Die" New Hampshire, where participatory town hall democracy is at the heart of self-government, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is thumbing her nose at the state's historic tradition.
Announcing that she would not hold any town hall meetings during the congressional recess, her campaign website ran this message: "No upcoming events scheduled. Please visit us again soon!"
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