Alabama Congressman The Latest Republican To Flee Constituent Anger

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks (R) was supposed to hold a town hall on Thursday. He cancelled when he found out that the event had sold out. Yes, that’s right. Too many constituents were planning on showing up.

The Huntsville Tea Party promoted the event as ‘free’ and ‘public’. The town hall was to be held at a favorite locale for the Tea Party — Whitesburg Baptist Church. The church has a membership of over 1500 people, so there was plenty of space.

It seems that the church’s large capacity must be what did the Alabama Congressman in. Brooks’ office gave the explanation that the gathering was never meant to be “public town hall” but was always meant to be a “private address” for the Tea Party.

Too bad Brooks failed to tell the Huntsville Tea Party. They went to all that trouble to promote the event and arrange for tickets through Event Bright — all for naught. According to Daily Kos, the group and Brooks had trouble getting their story straight on the reason for the cancellation. They finally agreed on alleging that “we won’t meet until Trump’s cabinet is confirmed.” 

There’s no mystery about what the Alabama Congressman is afraid of. His Republican colleagues across the country are facing huge crowds of constituents who are angry at the prospect of losing their health care. Many are just figuring out that repealing Obamacare is actually repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the source of their insurance. According to a New York Times survey, more than one-third of Americans still don’t realize the two are actually the same thing.

Last week, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) didn’t even bother with canceling her town hall. She simply stood up the constituents who were waiting for her — magnifying their fury. Fairfax resident James McCeney wrote on Facebook:

A friend just came back from a Comstock event in Oakton — Barbara was supposed to meet constituents there to talk about the repeal of Obamacare AND SHE NEVER SHOWED UP. THIS IS SHAMEFUL…

Meanwhile, in Pinellas County, Fla., Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R) at least showed up at his town hall to face 200 constituents who were upset over repealing the ACA. A young man with a heart condition issued a plea:

I’m an independent who voted for you. Please don’t take my life away. Please don’t let me die.

Did it make an impact? When Bilirakis thanked a man for sharing his fears about facing bankruptcy if the law is repealed (with no pledge to do anything about it), someone in the restless, angry crowd yelled:

Grow a spine!

And in California, the anger reached such a fever pitch that Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) had to leave the town hall under a police escort. He made the mistake of vigorously defending the Trump agenda that his audience was speaking out against. His constituents followed him and his phalanx of police to the car, shouting “Shame on you!” and “Vote him out!”

Such incidents are growing in number. In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, House GOP leaders urged the party’s Congressmen to increase security at events on their home turf. Congressman McClintock told CNN:

There’s a growing ugliness out there.

It was said with no apparent sense of irony or any feeling of culpability for creating the ugliness — a culpability that he shares with the Alabama Congressman and countless others who refuse to deal with the fear and anger of their constituents. Rather, members of the GOP are choosing to blame “agitators” and “paid activists” for the disruptions to their ill-considered agenda.

Activist Gara LaMarche, the president of Democracy Alliance, had a very different take on the developing situation:

The activism we’re seeing in the streets and at airports and women’s marches is robust. We’re seeing it spring up at town halls and in places none of us anticipated. It is very encouraging to see that kind of activism from the grassroots. These are ordinary people rising up. … The real question is whether it can be sustained or aligned with the appropriate channels to make real political change.

In other words, the protests are the work of ‘ordinary people’ — activism from the heart. When even Alabama is experiencing the unrest, it’s obvious that a major movement is well underway.

Feature photo, chicken running away, by Lilly M, usage under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

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Deborah Montesano

Deborah Montesano is a longtime political activist and blogger. She learned to fight against impossible odds by living for years in Arizona, but recently relocated to the more progressive-friendly city of Portland, Oregon. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/thepoliticali/ or on Twitter @thepoliticali_1.

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