Home 2018 Elections No, Roanoke Times, Attending Town Hall Meetings and Expressing Our Views Is...

No, Roanoke Times, Attending Town Hall Meetings and Expressing Our Views Is Not “Theatrics”


See below for my response to the editorial in the Roanoke Times on Feb. 23 (“Sorry, we don’t need town hall theatrics.”), which argued that activists – whether associated with “Indivisible” or on their own – swarming Republican town halls are engaged in useless “theatrics.”

Every person, no matter their politics viewpoint, should be angry at legislators who refuse to hold town hall meetings with constituents. There are many ways to assure that such meetings are done peacefully and respectfully. Rules about decorum and one person talking at a time are simple to enforce. However, to run away from the people who hired you is wrong and a reason for dismissal. What I mean is this: We the people elect representatives to be our voices in government, at every level of government. Our tax dollars pay the salary and benefits of those representatives. In other words, we are the employers, and they are our employees.

Haw anyone ever heard of a boss calling his/her employee in for a meeting and simply accepting that the employee says, “I won’t come”? Of course not. Have any of us refused to give requested information to our boss? Can you imagine what would happen to any one of us if we were that insubordinate?

We may now have a system of governance that is bought and paid for by a small group of wealthy people who give large donations to politicians. (It’s called oligarchy.) The system also now allows legislators to pick their bosses through gerrymandered districts, at both the state and national level. Our system also lets legislators stay until they drop dead if they keep getting elected. This system will never change unless the bosses – the voters – realize that they have the ability to fire their representatives. Plus, we all have the right to speak to our elected officials. They need to pay deference to us, not the other way around.

In recent weeks, many “bosses” have phoned and called the offices of Rep. Bob Goodlatte. Most have received nothing, and don’t expect to receive anything in response. After all, he doesn’t realize that we’re his bosses, and he works for us, not the other way around. I know I’m just one of his many bosses in the 6th District. I will likely lose when time to vote for or against him comes in 2018; however, as one of his bosses, I have the right to demand that he hear my position and my views. He may not agree. That’s fine, but perhaps my fellow voters and I can offer him another perspective on the issues we hold very important. Otherwise, I have no representation in Congress for my viewpoint, and as an employer, I won’t simply accept that as how things are. The people’s town hall in Vinton was a way for some of Goodlatte’s bosses to come together and organize for further action.

Oh, and by the way, not everyone at the town hall the newspaper so flippantly called “theatrics” was a “liberal.” They included people holding diverse opinions, even if most of them felt that Goodlatte refused to represent them and hear their concerns. Passivity never got anyone results, and no boss worth his/her salt would be passive in the face of such insubordination. To change things requires organization and action.

  • stuckinthewoods

    Thank you for an excellent article on that infuriating editorial.

    “But why should any member of Congress spend time at a “town hall” where most, if not all, the attendees disagree with him?” Because we also pay them.

  • The Roanoke Times editorial board has REALLY gone downhill, heading towards Republican Times-Disgrace territory at this rate. Gack.

    • Elaine Owens

      I messaged and had a back and forth with the editorial page editor. Maybe he saw my point, but he said that was just his take on the event. He did say he understood my views on organizing, but he felt that the diehard GOPers would get energized because Goodlatte was “attacked” at the town hall. I agree with you that the RT is trying to pander to the conservatives in the valley. The paper has such a skeleton crew now that it’s overall quality has gone way downhill.

      • The editorial page there has really gone downhill, occasionally a good editorial but often it’s just dreck (like the one you responded to).

  • Dave Webster

    Town Halls should be held. However, booing and shouting down the Representative is improper.

    • You, of course, condemned it when Tea Party mobs did this to Democrats in 2009-2010. You also condemned this (“Va. conservatives to burn Perriello, Pelosi in effigy”) and this this and this and this of course.

      • Elaine Owens

        I attended Goodlatte’s town halls in 2009 and 2010. People who supported Goodltte’s positions and opposed every thing President obama stood for were rude, yelling and carrying nasty signs. Goodlatte smiled through it all. Those of us there who didn’t share their vile viewpoint were never called upon or given a microphone. I will never forget the white-haired woman who screamed she would die before allowing Obama to get his hands on her health care. Of course, she was on Medicare, the only single-payer government system we have.

    • Elaine Owens

      It was made clear at the beginning of the Vinton “town hall” that the meeting was to be orderly. Councilman Bill Bestpitch of Roanoke even spoke nicely about Goodlatte as an individual and a family man. Those in attendance were mainly interested in several issues: Goodlatte’s attempt to make the congressional ethics office meaningless at the start of this Congress, exactly what would replace the Affordable Care Act and how would Republicans guarantee that no one would lose coverage, the ill-conceived ban on Muslims entering the country from seven countries – none of which were involved in 9/11, the rejection by this administration of America’s historical welcoming of refugees fleeing oppression and war, etc. In other words, participants kept their comments to issues…and they still want answers. They deserve answers.