Republican Congressmen and Senators nationwide have come under fire in recent months at town halls with constituents, where liberal groups have heckled and harassed their representatives over what they see as failings in a GOP controlled Washington D.C. Legislators across the country, from Maryland to Utah and all the way out to California have seen their events interrupted by unruly protesters both inside and outside their town hall venues.
Many elected officials have opted to hold smaller meetings, speaking at organized meetings or with individuals at their offices. Georgia Senator David Perdue, especially under fire from the left as one of President Donald Trump’s most recognizable supporters, follows that strategy. “I do it differently,” he told 11 Alive last month. “I engage individually and in small groups. And I do a lot of that in this state. So it’s [the town hall] a method some people do. I do the tele-town halls. We’ve done that. But I get a better reaction and better information when I’m talking to people individually about their critical issues.”
For two new non-profit groups, that’s just not enough. The Georgia Alliance for Social Justice and 159 Georgia Together have launched a campaign urging Perdue to host a series of town halls in order to answer to a constituency that feels it isn’t getting the answers it is seeking. A quick perusal of the groups’ websites tells you exactly where they stand on the political spectrum, with messages urging supporters to stand against campus carry and requesting a filibuster to stop the nomination of the President’s pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
The groups have done more than ask for signatures on vague petitions though – they’ve purchased five billboards across the state with a picture of Perdue’s face and asking, “Have you seen him?”
So far the groups haven’t, and as long as they’re looming in the background, they’re unlikely to. Their stated goal, “to meet with his constituents and rebuild trust,” should read, “to harass and embarrass a Republican lawmaker who is carrying out a Republican agenda in Washington D.C.” Perdue is no fool, he and his staff have seen that no real dialogue can be created when a town hall is interrupted by protesters and the representative is shouted down by angry Democratic voters.
For legislators interacting with their constituencies should be their top priority. When groups make it their sole mission to interrupt that practice though, they are going against the very message that they are pretending to send.