After reading about a town hall list showing bogus Paul Ryan locations in Janesville, at Rock Netroots, I came across this story that suddenly connected the dots for me. It looks like Republicans are now trying to hide from their base, those far right wing loons that would basically guarantee them reelection in the upcoming midterms. The GOP is about to implode on itself after playing their dangerous games of division. Who knew it would work against their own party unity?
NY Times: A Former Engine of the G.O.P., the Town Hall Meeting, Cools Down: Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican … four summers ago helped his party use them to stoke opposition to President Obama’s health care bill. Across the country, forums like his fed a budding Tea Party movement and set the stage for returning the House to Republican control in 2010. But when Mr. Sessions returned to his district for the August recess this year, there was something conspicuously missing from his schedule: a town hall.
They also say they are seeing Congressional offices go to greater lengths to conceal when and where the meetings take place. “The whole thing is very anti-democratic, and it’s classic behavior of entrenched insiders,” said Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group that in 2009 helped send legions of demonstrators to town halls.
With memories of those angry protests still vivid, it seems that one of the unintended consequences of a movement that thrived on such open, often confrontational interactions with lawmakers is that there are fewer members of Congress now willing to face their constituents.
Members of Congress and their aides were reluctant to talk: “Ninety percent of the audience will be there interested in what you have to say,” one Senate Republican aide said. “It’s the other 5 or 10 percent who aren’t. They’re there to make a point and, frankly, to hijack the meeting.”
“The reason 2009 was so successful for the grass roots was because the politicians never saw it coming,” said Jennifer Stefano, the state director for the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity. “Now they know. And they are terrified.”
Tea Party advocates from around Dallas spent one night last week making fake milk cartons with pictures of Mr. Sessions and Senator John Cornyn who has yet to announce a town hall.
Most of the efforts to shame members of Congress who are not holding town halls are aimed at Republicans. Tea Party groups are focused mainly on pressuring fellow Republicans — not Democrats, to back a proposal to shut down the government if financing is not pulled from the president’s health care law.
Immigration groups are almost exclusively targeting House Republicans, who now hold the key to passing any immigration overhaul legislation.
Congressional offices have gotten increasingly clever about keeping their schedules under wraps. Sometimes, they wait until the last minute to announce the meeting, advocates said. Other times, they book a room that cannot accommodate large crowds and then alert their supporters to arrive an hour early so that the audience fills up with friendly faces.