Heeding the public

Enid News
By: Staff
September 5, 2011

ENID — Congress is held in incredibly low regard. In fact, a recent poll showed 87 percent of Americans disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing.

So, what do lawmakers do? Go out and try to explain their actions to constituents?

No. Instead, a great many of them didn’t bother talking to their constituents at all. Many members of Congress decided to use the summer recess for something other than meeting the people who elected them.

The longtime tradition of the town hall meeting took a beating. Two years ago, lawmakers hosted more than 650 town hall meetings. This summer, there were just more than 500. CQ-Roll Call shows only 154 federal lawmakers — out of 535 members of the Senate and House — held town meetings.

Lawmakers have given a variety of reasons for not holding the meetings — chiefly, security after the wounding of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and organized protesters who take over the events.

To us, the reasons sound more like excuses. Town hall meetings aren’t supposed to just be for supporters to come out and tell lawmakers what a great job they are doing. We know there have been organized hecklers — from both liberal and conservative groups — who have made things difficult for some lawmakers.

But, that’s no excuse to avoid your constituents. Now, more than ever, the people deserve to hear about what’s going on in Washington, and what lawmakers plan to do about it.

Ducking the people is not the way to handle the situation.

Luckily for people in northwest Oklahoma, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas and Sen. Tom Coburn were two of the lawmakers who did host meetings. They held meetings throughout the area, giving residents a chance to come and hear what they had to say and ask questions.
If only all lawmakers had done that.
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