In response to the chaos surrounding recent town hall meetings held by Republican lawmakers, certain among them have refused to hold these events altogether.
Rep. Tom MacArthur, from New Jersey's 3rd District, held a one-hour telephone town hall in early February rather than a formal meeting, telling North Jersey News that he didn't "want to be baited into having an an event that some outside group [could] just make a spectacle out of." MacArthur's constituents were invited to call in their questions to the representative, but the advantage of a formal, in-person meeting is inarguable.
Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington's 8th congressional district cited safety as an argument against town hall meetings; his meeting on healthcare will instead take place via Facebook Live. Hundreds of protestors plan to gather at Reichart's offices today in response to the decision. When asked by Kiro 7 News if he is afraid to meet with constituents, Reichert responded, "Look, I was a cop for 33 years, I've been shot at, stabbed, I was in the middle of WTO as you know. I don't think people, anybody would believe I would be afraid to meet with anybody, anywhere, anytime as long as it's respectful discourse."
But you know who really isn't afraid to meet with anybody, anywhere, anytime, even after literally being shot in the head? Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) cited the 2011 shooting that injured Giffords and killed six others as evidence of "the threat of violence at town hall meetings." According to the statement on Gohmert's website, this threat played an integral role in his decision not to hold one.
In a responding statement to Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization she co-founded, Giffords stated, "I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber—at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead—held town halls. It's what people deserve in a representative. ... To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face Your constituents. Hold town halls."
Our sentiments exactly.
Top photo: facebook.com/Americans For Responsible Solutions
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Olivia Loperfido is an English and psychology major at New York University's College of Arts and Sciences, and the junior editor of NYU's Mercer Street (2017-'18). She enjoys spending time with her dogs and tortoise, watching RuPaul's Drag Race, and contacting her state representatives. Follow her on Instagram here and contact her via email here.