Attending My First Town Hall

I pay taxes. I vote at almost every election, even primaries. I considered myself to be doing my civic duty as a member of a democratic republic.

Yet, there are so many concerns that when I e-mail my congressman, I simply get a form letter back telling me he’s glad I shared my concerns with him, but he’s going to do whatever he wants to do anyway.


So, I attended my first town hall to see him face-to-face and make him tell me face-to-face that my concerns don’t matter to him.

It was an interesting experience to be in a room filled with people, all of whom were demanding action, and watching the man we elected dance around the facts and basically tell us he didn’t care about our concerns.


See, my congressman has been in congress since around the time I was born. He has absolutely no concern for what I have to say. Apparently, he’s not worried about being re-elected. We are one of the reddest counties in the country, so, he’s probably right.

Rather than feeling defeated, it makes me want to go to more town halls and continue to push. To make him listen to me. And if not, perhaps to find enough other like-minded people that we can force a difference in how he acts if not how he thinks.

I’m interested in the political process now, in how we could run someone against him effectively. Not because I think the challenger will win, but because I think real competition might make him listen when his constituents speak.

Makes me wonder why there has never been real competition for him or for many in a Congress most Americans think are doing a terrible job. I need to research more to understand this.

Makes me wish there were federal term limits.


Not that I think I’ll make a difference, but if we all think that, then we’re all correct and our politicians can continue to not listen to We the People.

How about you? Do you make sure to vote? Have you ever called or written your congressman? Ever been to a town hall with them? How did it go?

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12 thoughts on “Attending My First Town Hall

  1. The approval rating/reelection thing is an interesting and slightly misleading thing. Most people love their own elected official. (After all they elected them.) A big part of it is heavily gerrymandered districts. So red districts are made redder and blue districts (that’s me!) are made bluer. Or often the district of the group not in charge when redistricting happens makes it so that there are more districts that can win for their party and they will clump all the people of the other party together. (There are some good graphs on this I’ll see if I can find the one I’m thinking of.)

    So people LOVE their rep (for the most part, except for the blues stuck in red districts or the reds stuck in blue districts), but because there is very little competition for seats (most of the competition actually happens at the primary level for these seats, so if you want to change you might have to hold your breath and see about pushing hard on the GOP primary) reps tend to push further and further out to the edges of their parties and that makes them more extreme, which results in polarization.

    There is also the pork factor. People say they don’t like pork. But “pork” is when it happens in other districts, when it happens in your own district it’s called “jobs” and “revitalization” and “renewal” (and yes sometimes some of those words are also gentrification, but sometimes they are just sticking a 4 lane highway where really a 2 lane is needed). So reps, especially long standing reps, get really good at bringing home the bacon (jobs) to their district so when they stand up in the front of the room they can say they brought x jobs to the district, and in the same breath talk about how bad pork is and how hard they are working to get rid of it.

    Then there’s a whole level of fear mongering, racism, othering, and just being a disgusting human being lacking empathy that comes into it too. But I think I’ve ranted in your blog enough for the morning 😉

    (Can you tell I used to be a political blogger in a former life?)

    1. The “pork” is exactly why our military spending has run amuck. People complain about military spending, but if you look into WHERE it is spent it often has little or no relevance to ACTUAL defense needs. Then the issue of ALL bills having extra, non-related, expenditures and you’ll be as pissed as most of the taxpayers that pay attention are. They stick so much in the military budget specifically because nobody wants to vote against ‘national defense’ because it’s a recipe for political woes. Anyway, you had some good points so thanks for sharing.

      1. Thanks. And yes to military spending. The things the military doesn’t ask for and doesn’t want is a big piece of it. (On the other hand things that are less tangible like vet health care goes under supported.)

        1. That is very true, but that is because bureaucratic bloat means they really don’t know. The government has trouble firing bad employees and rather than address that, they stick band-aides and replace the guy on the top. Having to use the VA has convinced me that I do NOT want government managed medicine. Sigh, but the test of time tells us that government and corruption are intrinsically linked. What options do we have, shy of anarchy? Certainly not any solution that gives them MORE power.

          1. I will say I do think government can work well or as well as private industry. But people get bristly faster with government. I don’t want a for profit industry running health care either because death is cheap and saving lives is expensive and well when it comes to the bottom line why would you ever insure human beings who need help if you don’t have to and aren’t making money at it.

            (I work for a government agency that I think has issues but does a good job for the people we serve and are invisible to most people, which is sort of the ideal, no one applauds well run government because they don’t notice it.)

          2. The issue with that is the amount of redundancy and waste in the government. If we ever seriously tackled that, I think people would be a lot more happy with the status qou.

  2. That’s because humans have an us versus them mentality that political creatures milk. ALL politicians suck, but not mine is often the mentality that allows rampant incumbency to thrive.

  3. I’m attempting to stay more engaged right now in politics on all levels–local, state and federal. I have not yet attended a town hall meeting, but I have always voted. I have friends who put me to shame, however. While we’re all progressive Democrats of one ilk or another, these friends are true activists. I can’t claim that title, alas. Not yet.

  4. Never been to a town hall. I vote regularly. I even have a website that tells me how my guys voted in what. I like that because it helps me track the officials so that I can then decide weather they represent me or not. I’d go to a town hall if I ever knew of one. Especially for senate or house people. I’m a new resident in this area though, so it’ll take time for me to learn the lay of the land.

  5. Unfortunately the next four years will get even weirder. Plus when you’re as Left a Libertarian as Bernie Sanders and Chomsky, it makes it somewhat difficult finding another presidential candidate that is Anarcho Communist. You’re not conservative, but you don’t believe in big government like traditionally Authoritarian Left people do.

    Oh you know what’s strange? Hillary was listed as Authoritarian Conservative by this one website’s definition. It kind of makes me wonder what is really considered conservative at times. I think the political compass made me more confused.

    I was pleased the inauguration was largely empty though.

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