Sit down and shut up

Sit down and shut up

by digby

Yesterday the unity 08 No Labels group put out a study showing that politicians of both parties are failing to hold Townhalls this August in the face of confrontational citizens. That's really sad. But it isn't stopping the people from turning out in droves to those that are --- or finding other ways to let their representatives know what's on their minds. What dday has dubbed the Invisible Townhall Revolution (I called it the Hidden Rebellion, but it didn't catch on ... c'est la vie) continues apace with reports of very unhappy constituents all over the country.

Here's one dispatch from the district of Ohio GOP stalwart Steve Chabot, (via the Political Carnival):

It is not supposed to happen in America where we value free speech and proudly revel in our history of men and women standing up and speaking to their elected representatives. But…once again, just last night, as they did in June, Congressman Steve Chabot, his staff and security team made sure that there could be no genuine human interaction or spoken question from the audience or any recorded documentation of what was said. And this occurred in a public meeting, in a public place, conducted by a public official, who while speaking to the public refused over 100 people who disagreed with him the opportunity to speak. And he had the police there to physically enforce his own private rules for public discourse.

Last night it was supposed ‘security reasons” that they again not only banned citizen speech, but the photographing and filming of the Congressman speaking as well. Chabot’s security team enlisted the help of the on-duty Cincinnati Police (car # 05313) to enforce this policy with the threat of arrest and the actual confiscation of two video cameras until the conclusion of the meeting.

When exactly did this become normal? The last I heard we had a democracy and a bill of rights that guaranteed the people the right to free speech, assembly, petition their government --- all kinds of good stuff. At what point did it become ok for Representatives to tell their constituents to shut up or get out?

And considering the amount of anger across the country, how does he know this isn't going to impact his ability to get votes? It could just as easily be Republicans as Democrats who want to express themselves these days.

This strikes me as a very bad development. These politicians are barricading themselves behind closed doors and only seeing what they want to see and they communicate with the voters through expensive advertisement financed by wealthy donors. This is not business as usual, particularly for congressional reps who are supposed to stay close to the people.

This is unhealthy. We have disagreements in this country and we are allowed to air them loudly and even rudely --- even Tea Partiers (who I mostly criticized for their unpleasant little habit of showing up to meetings wearing guns and talking about spilling blood.) But rudeness? Let 'er rip. These politicians are paid by the people and the least they can do is listen.

Update: Doh. Chabot has a progressive opponent.And a good one:

You can read Connie's strong guest editorial about standing up to John Kasich and his reactionary Republicans' attack on working families and watch her passionate defense of women's right to choice here.