The U.S. House of Representatives goes on recess this week. I’m tempted to be a cynic and ask why they get a recess after less than a month at work but I won’t. Regardless of what you may think of our elected officials, it’s a very tough job and one will never succeed in making everyone happy. Our state is split into ten congressional districts, six are held by Democrats and Four by Republicans. Often in past years during the House recess, members would organize “town meetings” in their districts to allow citizens to ask questions and gather information on the goings on in Washington D.C.
It doesn’t take a student of government to observe that there is a huge divide between Democrats and Republicans in our state. In certain congressional districts that gap between the parties is wider than ever putting the representative in that district in a very sticky position.
Two such districts are the 8th represented by Dave Reichert and the 2nd represented by Rick Larsen. A few months after Barack Obama was elected Larsen had a town hall meeting at the Aqua Sox ball park in Everett. Over three thousand people jammed the stadium and pepper Larsen with questions about Obamacare and other Democrat sponsored issues. It got a little tense at times.
Well folks, those were the good old days. It isn’t tense anymore, it’s down right mean. Somehow, some way we seem to have lost the ability and the desire to listen to each other. Our need to be right is blocking all sense of reason and now allowing us to agree on many important issues.
Democrats are demanding a town hall meeting with Dave Reichert who refuses to have one with a live audience. He will do a Facebook live town hall on Feb. 23rd. That’s not really facing the public but I’m not sure If I blame him.
Ideally a town hall offers people to ask a question and get an answer. All too often in my experience the questions are rude and personal and the answers are not nearly clear enough to satisfy the question.
In my view the only solution is a moderator who is neutral and in control of the audience but one who can also elicit a satisfactory answer out of the elected official. I am that person.
As a guy who loves just about everybody I meet, regardless of what they think of me, I’m the perfect choice to moderate a town hall session between angry voters and elected officials. I would explain to the audience before beginning that there are other people in the building who gave up their evening to learn more about what their government is doing for them and to hopefully learn more about what they can do for their local community.
We’re all in this together. Nothing will ever get done at any level if we don’t take the time to listen to each other before we jump in with our own opinion.
I firmly believe there is not a single problem locally or nationally that we cannot solve by listening to each other, setting a goal and working together. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.