Monday, August 3, 2009

Town halls getting rowdy -- Will pitchforks and torches be next?

Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety — welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.

On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.

“I had felt they would be pointless,” Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO, referring to his recent decision to temporarily suspend the events in his Long Island district. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”

In Bishop’s case, his decision came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry. ...

Article here. Pretty much all of the politicians mentioned in the article are Democrats, with a token Republican. With the economy on life support, the mood of many Americans is decidedly and increasingly angry at the recklessly profligate (and often unconstitutional) spending of the last year. If this continues (and there is little reason to expect that it won't), I suspect that at some point the peaceful but audibly boisterous protests we're seeing now may give way to something far more ominous.

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