These days, town halls can be rough for politicians
TOWN hall meetings have been a challenge across the country for Republican members of Congress, and Oklahoma’s senators and House members aren’t immune. Folks are worked up and don’t mind saying so.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, got an earful Tuesday night at a town hall in Norman where he spent 5 hours, 45 minutes answering questions that focused mostly on health care and on President Trump.
As The Oklahoman’s Justin Wingerter reported, dozens of those in the crowd estimated at 250 kept their hands up throughout much of the event. Several wore green T-shirts that read “RESIST.” Others held signs that read, “Reclaiming My Time.”
At one point, Cole had to intervene when a supporter yelled at a critic of Cole to “shut up.” The congressman became annoyed late in the second hour of the marathon meeting when he was drowned out by shouts. “Will you let me finish?” he said to one woman.
Many conservatives are angry that the Republican-controlled House and Senate haven’t been able to pass some sort of revision of the Affordable Care Act — something they had promised would happen if only they had a Republican in the White House. On the other hand, many Americans on both sides of the aisle are concerned about losing the coverage Obamacare provides.
At a recent town hall in Chico, California, Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa heard from constituents angry about his vote to repeal Obamacare. “I hope you suffer the same painful fate as those millions that you have voted to remove health care from,” one person said, according to The Washington Post. “May you die in pain.”
No one went quite that far with Cole in Norman, although attendees made it clear they certainly don’t want an overhaul and instead would love to
Many conservatives are angry that the Republican-controlled House and Senate haven’t been able to pass some sort of revision of the Affordable Care Act — something they had promised would happen if only they had a Republican in the White House.”
see universal health care.
The Norman stop was one of four town halls Cole scheduled during the August recess. He answered questions for more than three hours Thursday in Midwest City. Third District Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, has hosted several town halls, with a number of others on the books this week. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, has a “community conversation” scheduled Monday at Oklahoma Christian University. The other four members of the delegation didn’t schedule town halls during their break from Washington.
Second District Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, has engendered considerable criticism from constituents since a town hall in Claremore in April where he told the audience it was “bullcrap” that they pay for his job. “I pay for myself,” he said. “I paid enough taxes before I got there and continue to through my company to pay my own salary.”
Some in his district also are upset that Mullin plans to seek a fourth term, after saying he would serve no more than three terms. And in Tahlequah, some residents are upset that Mullin hasn’t rescheduled a town hall that he canceled abruptly four months ago.
He and every member of the delegation would do well to occasionally stand up before their constituents and face the music. That’s particularly difficult now, for a variety of reasons, but it goes with the job.