Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.
Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist. Today, we’re encouraging you to sign up for emails from the Town Hall Project, which will inform you of upcoming Town Halls near you.
What’s the problem?
What can you do?
Town Hall meetings are the best — and, really, the only — way for constituents to advocate change to members of Congress face to face. Telephoning Congresspeople’s offices, while certainly effective in its own ways, will either lead you to a voicemail service, or to an office assistant or intern who’ll then take your concerns down as part of a tally. Interestingly, because people have caught on to the directness of this form of activism, members of Congress are now, as the Washington Post reports, shying away from holding Town Halls — because instead of listening to the complaints of constituents they’re supposed to represent, they’d rather claim protestors are being “paid” to be there [Seriously, though, where are our George Soros checks already?! – Accounts Dept.] so they can thereby ignore concerns in an effort to seemingly play a continuous game of Don’t Wake Daddy with the Trump administration. (And then Donald Trump himself has blamed… Barack Obama.)
The sudden avoidance of Town Halls — following various events that Republicans complained were disrupted by rowdy dissenters — has been so widespread that Chris Christie of all people had to come out and say, “I understand why members of Congress don’t like it. But you know what? You asked for the job. Go do it.” (This also provides us with another example of someone who’s The Worst suddenly seeming comparatively — and, yes, very momentarily — rational in this day and age.)
But the idea that protests have been so vehement as to lead GOP lawmakers to withdraw — and therefore risk seeming like they’re unwilling to listen to the public — means they’re working at forcing discourse, or Republicans’ chosen lack of discourse, into the public eye. Whether people are protesting or calmly raising concerns, the idea that representatives would choose to openly avoid their constituents seems counter to… the very point of bearing the “representative” title. (It’s particularly funny, given that town hall disruption was the tactic employed by Tea Partiers during the Obama years.) As Democratic Colorado Representative Betsy Markey told the Post:
That’s why you were elected, to represent the people. You come back on weekends, you come back on breaks, and you talk to people — even if they don’t like what you’re doing.
Town Hall project displays the Town Hall meetings nearest to you; the homepage is an interactive map of the U.S., below which is a list of events, which you can see in any given order — from nearest date, to party, to home state, to meeting type. And, if you sign up for its newsletter, it’ll send notifications of Town Halls (and other similar events) near you. The website is “volunteer-powered, grassroots effort” whose organizers “share progressive values and believe strongly in civic engagement.” They emphasize that “every citizen, no matter the party of their members of Congress, should have the opportunity to speak with his or her representatives.”