The reception that Representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, received here one night last week as he faced a small group of constituents was far more pleasant than his encounters during a Congressional recess last summer.
Then, he was hanged in effigy by protesters. This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.
The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.
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 as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.
It was no scheduling accident…
No indeed, it wasn’t, and isn’t. It is a deliberate ploy by many elected representatives to duck their Congressional duties by avoiding most of those who voted for them. And it won’t work.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, red-staters are meeting their reps in droves. Under the aegis of the “America Speaking Out” tour, many Republican Congress critters are doing the traditional meet-and-greet without any of the fancy footwork of pre-screening that their Dem counterparts are relying on to protect themselves from their oh-so-dangerous constituents.
The dichotomy between the two parties couldn’t be clearer during this August recess. The party in power fears the wrath of the voters, while the minority party is proposing ideas, glad-handing the folks, and making their presence felt in their districts. And therein lies the difference between Red and Blue.
Clearly, the cure for these summertime Blues is to vote ’em out of office.
Remember in November.