Bursting the DC Bubble with Public Meetings Back Home
h/t Show Me Progress
Earlier this week, Sen. Claire McCaskill held a town meeting in Sedalia, MO. In itself, there’s nothing earthshattering about that — it’s what members of Congress do when they go back home, and about 150 folks turned out to hear her and to let her hear them.
Local MO democrats, though, have taken things one step further. Michael Bersin posted a three part transcript of her Q&A at Show Me Progress and They Gave Us a Republic (part one, part two, part three, and part four). The whole thing is a good read — not too long — and McCaskill and her constituents covered a lot of subjects, from closing Gitmo to reforming government contracting to energy policy to Native American concerns to . . . well, to anything that was on someone’s mind.
And that’s the whole point of these events.
When McCaskill stepped to the microphone, here’s how she opened her remarks (from the transcript in part 2 above):
Good morning everyone, it’s terrific to be here. I am not here to give a speech, I’m here to listen and answer questions. So, I’m not gonna do a long introductory set of remarks. I will tell you that when they talk about us leaving Washington, I want to reassure everyone that when we get a week off from Washington, at least this senator and I think most of my colleagues don’t go home and watch Oprah. [laughter] We do things like this, which is a really important part of my job, is to come out in a public forum, no screening, no, no preset questions, to listen. And to understand what’s on your mind. And so, the more we get a few weeks off in Washington, the better it is I think, because that gives us the time to move around the state and have the kinds of meetings and opportunities to talk to the people that we work for. Because you can get to thinking you’re a pretty big deal out there. They’re very deferential and it’s kind of an insulated environment. And I can see how you can lose perspective about what’s important and, and how you should conduct, how you should set your priorities.
This is why connecting with senators, representatives, and candidates for those positions is so important. It helps them to keep a healthy perspective about themselves and the people of the nation they serve, and to set priorities that reflect that broader perspective.
Email contact is nice, and so are letters and phone calls and faxes. But nothing says to a senator or representative "This matters to me" more than someone who takes the time and makes the effort to show up in person. It could be at their office in DC, one of the offices "back home," or at public events like these.
Today’s a Saturday, and I’ll bet there are hundreds of events like this going on around the country. Come by here at 11 AM FDL, and chat with Howie Klein’s Blue America guest Linda Ketner from South Carolina. But also check the websites of your senators and representatives, see if there’s something happening around you, and then go ask them a question or two.
You’ll be glad you did, and (if they’re smart) so will they.