Many republicans are hesitant to go back to their home districts to host town hall meetings, which is a reversal from eight years ago when the republicans largely benefited from the divisive nature of these meetings.
Tom Cotton, Arkansas senator, recently came to a Springdale high school to talk with hundreds of constituents. The meeting location changed several times due to the volume of people attending
Allan Aguilar, president of the Young Democrats attended Cotton’s town hall meeting, said that the town hall meeting was mainly one-sided. “It was overwhelmingly democrats or liberals. A majority of them were very against what Tom Cotton was saying.” Aguilar said.
In regards to productivity he said, “It’s hard to call any town hall meeting productive, because it is very one-sided. Either you have the audience demanding answers and not getting them or you’re the senator giving answers that may or may not be good. There is not that communication that I think is necessary to make progress.”
Aguilar said he is able to understand the issue of republicans not coming to town hall meetings. He said, “I think both sides have reasons for what they do.”
He said the republicans are not coming not because they can’t take it but “probably just that they feeling nothing of value has been coming from [attending].”
On the other side he said, “People want to express their discontent with the senators so they want them to come back and have that as a rallying point for their causes and goals.”
“I don’t think that it’s that bad that they are not coming back, but it does show poorly that they are not there.” Aguilar said.
Abby Chorley, a senior English major, agreed with Aguilar and state that if representatives are not listening to their citizens, “we have a problem.”
In the end, Aguilar said he sided more with the constituents. “Regardless of whether [republicans] think it is going to be beneficial or not or whether they are going to get booed or chastised. They should still make the effort they can if they have the time,” Aguilar said.
Again he emphasized, “They may have their reasons and they may be valid, but I still think they have their obligations to be there.”
Though Cotton did attend his town hall meeting, a republican senator in Denver has not returned for a town hall meeting, leading citizens to create a missing poster for him in jest.
Through the meeting, Cotton dodged questions and gave misleading answers, establishing an unfortunate precedent for other republicans holding town hall meetings. As these sorts of meetings are indicative of the unity of the republican party, the division between a senator and his consituency bodes ill for the party’s health.