During the spring recess, many Republican representatives avoided town halls rather than face their constituents. Now summer has come, and it’s the Senators’ turn, as many Republicans spent the Independence Day weekend hiding. The holiday weekend is usually a time for politicians to participate in parades and press the flesh. But with the Senate fighting to pass a health care bill that would strip coverage from 22 million people, most of them would rather not face the fact that they are not representing the public at all.
Colorado’s Cory Gardner was a perfect demonstration of the cowardice. He hasn’t held a town hall meeting all year. He continued the lack of engagement by spending Monday at home, with a security detail to keep voters at bay.
To be fair, the Senators have legitimate concerns of being held to account. When Bill Cassidy held a town hall in Baton Rouge last week to discuss Louisiana’s flood recovery, the audience heckled him with questions about health care. Cassidy learned that it’s no fun to face the people that would lose their insurance under Trumpcare.
That’s why other senators found ways to avoid hearing the public’s voices. Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey scheduled an event that he misleadingly called a “televised town hall,” but is actually an invitation-only event for supporters. Mitch McConnell, who drafted the Senate bill in secret, dodged protesters to give a talk to the friendly crowd at a meeting of the Hardin County Republicans.
There were a few Republican senators, however, who were brave enough to face the weekend crowds. Those included Dean Heller, Ted Cruz, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins. What do they have in common? They have all opposed the current Trumpcare bill.
It’s painfully clear that the Republicans know what they’re doing is wildly unpopular and bad for the people. But most of them seem willing to stick to the shadows in order to give their wealthy donors the tax cut they crave.