Meadows should host a public forum

Apr 13, 2017

Nobody could accuse U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows of not spending time in the district. In past years, Meadows has been seemingly everywhere in the district and has visited Haywood numerous times.

During his tenure, he has met with small groups in Haywood, toured factories and even been here for several “Day in the Life Of…” experiences where he works alongside people in their jobs.

What Meadows seldom does, however, is appear at an open forum where the robust give and take of politics is on display. The events where Meadows shows up are tightly controlled and often, members of the general public have little advance notice and aren’t looked upon kindly if they simply show up.

During the healthcare debate where Congress was searching for an alternative to Obamacare, Meadows was the darling of network and cable news shows when the Freedom Caucus, which he chairs, held the crucial trump card to sealing a deal.

During that period, even local newspapers such as The Mountaineer, which regularly features interviews with the Congressman, were ignored as the national headline makers were obliged. The constituents he represents had no chance to to look their Congressman in the eye during the intensity of the debate, and he only heard from them through letters, phone calls or emails.

This nation’s future hinges on happenings in Washington, D.C., as elected leaders decide who to fight, who to protect, who to reward and who to punish. All who carefully follow current events are interested in the first-hand account their elected representative can offer on a diverse range of issues. To deprive them of that opportunity almost seems undemocratic.

But, many in Congress, both Republican and Democrat, are skirting crowds that could be raucous and confrontational. Only the courageous Congressmen from both parties are holding regular town halls in their communities where voters have a chance to personally voice their concern in the traditions that have long been heralded in this nation. Robust discussion is the backbone of politics, and carefully tailoring events to avoid it is a travesty.

The Mountaineer joins others in the district calling for an open forum this spring where their Congressman will answer questions, personally listen to their concerns and do what he was elected to do — represent the people. Meadows has long said his goal is to represent all voters in his district, whether they voted for him or not.

It is one thing to read letters, emails or review the phone logs where aids record the number of people who call in to urge a yea or nay vote on an issue. It is altogether another to be in the midst of concerned constituents who want to interact with their representative.