It can be hell when the electorate holds you acountable for your tyrannical hubris.
The reception that Representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, received here one night last week as he faced a small group of constituents was far more pleasant than his encounters during a Congressional recess last summer.
Then, he was hanged in effigy by protesters. This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.
The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.
If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.
It was no scheduling accident.
With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.
In November, they’ll be barracaded in their offices, refusing to come out even after the voters have shoved a pink slip under their doors.
Related post: http://sfcmac.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/democrats-hiding-from-constituents-part-ii/