Monday, August 10, 2009

Town Hall 4: Town Hall Meetings

Next question: Is shutting down town halls bad for representation and democracy?

This is an easy one. Why do Members of Congress host town hall meetings? It's a form of advertising. They get to appear in a position of authority in front of political active citizens, citizens who are apt to spread the word that their own particular Member is fighting the good fight on their behalf against those politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.

Yes, representation involves politicians explaining what they've done back to their constituents, just as it involves them making promises about what they intend to do if they're elected. Small gatherings are not, however, important means to those ends, not in districts that hold three quarters of a million constituents.

I do, alas, share Mark Kleiman's concerns about the possibility of violence among those who actually believe some of the more, er, creative forms of propaganda circulating out there. I'd say on both sides, but only one side seems to be emphasizing guns right now. Still, the danger here is about one or more nuts doing something stupid, not pulling off a coup.

There's no threat to democracy here.

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