House Republicans have been facing irate crowds in their home districts. Constituents are upset mostly with President Trump and his policies, including the stalled GOP attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lawmakers are trying their very best to avoid explosive confrontations during this month’s recess, which will last two weeks.
Many Republicans are taking to live-streaming the town hall events in an attempt to avoid interactions that could possibly go viral online, as well as setting up telephone town halls, where constituents can call in directly with their concerns. Another tactic lawmakers are opting to use is meeting up with small groups of constituents to avoid to rowdiness of larger crowds.
Rep. Dave Reichert, for instance, plans to hold upwards of 50 different meetings and events to speak with more than 200 constituents rather than holding one large town hall meeting according to his office. This former sheriff is staying steadfast in his choice to hold smaller meetings despite the fact that he has been feeling the pressure from left-leaning groups to have the traditional town hall meeting.
Spokeswoman for Reichert, Breanna Deutsch said:
‘Congressman Reichert believes this is the best way to maintain open communication with his constituents and have productive conversations.’
The office of Rep. Peter Roskam, who represents a district that was won by Hliary Clinton, that Democrats are hoping to flip in 2018 claim to have one of the busiest district schedules, with planned office meetings, site visits, various speaking engagements, telephone town halls, and roundtable discussions. A spokesperson for Roskam diminished how effective in-person town halls are saying “large, unstructured events tend to devolve into shouting matches.”
Rep. Ryan Costello is one of the few Republicans who chose to hold a town hall during this month’s recess. Attendees of his only scheduled in-person town hall were advised that videos would be prohibited due to the rules of the courthouse in which it was held. This did not sit well with the American Civil Liberties Union. Eventually Costello managed to convince the judge that was in charge of the courthouse to allow a limited video of the town hall proceedings. Costello’s office posted this video on youtube 5 days later. The only other town hall he has announced, which is scheduled for next Friday, will be conducted purely over the phone.
Republicans who have chosen to hold town hall meetings typically are taking farther precautions to attempt to impose order, and discourage the more aggressive protesters. Many are requiring that people sign up for tickets beforehand to ensure they are actual constituents and banning signs.
The GOP lawmakers that decided to brave the crowds often seek to find common ground with constituents. At times they have offered up light criticisms of Donald Trump, like agreeing that he should just release his tax returns in attempt to gain rapport with left-leaning constituents.
Not everyone agrees with the alternative versions of town hall meetings though, Centrist Leonard Lance believes it is important to hold town hall meetings despite the conflict they may create.
‘I learn from town hall meetings regardless of whether the audience is supportive of President Trump or not. I try to reach out to all of my constituents, including those constituents who may never have voted for me because I think it’s important to represent everybody in the district. I think we have an obligation in political life to try to engage our constituents as much as possible.’
Feature Image via Getty Images