The counterpoint to the charade and downgrade of the Town Meeting model mounted by Rep. Carol Shea-Porter [as witnessed in Epping, Manchester and Auburn, for example] is a positive statement of the kind of meetings between Representative and constituents that one can expect if Peter Bearse is elected to represent NH CD 1 rather than Carol Shea-Porter.
Peter’s meetings would honor and amplify the traditional Town Meeting as the foundation of American local democracy. They would have the following features:
- There would be many more of them throughout the Congressional 2-year term [Carol held only two during the first ¾ of her term, before mounting a splurge of meetings this summer – at taxpayer’s expense! –a not so subtle form of electioneering for her reelection campaign].
- They would be held frequently throughout the 80-town District [not, as now, infrequently in just a small, minor proportion of towns].
- There would be no long, self-promotional presentations or lectures by the Representative, only a short, welcoming statement to open the meetings up to questions [Carol’s self-serving solos took up about 80 minutes, or two-thirds of the two hour meeting time in Epping].
- There would be no attempts to pack the meetings with supporters [unlike what we witnessed at Carol’s meetings in Epping, Auburn and Manchester].
- Meeting announcements would be provided at least three weeks in advance and they would be widely disseminated through print, Internet and other media in order to attract maximum constituent participation [unlike what we observed in advance of Carol’s meetings].
- Every participant in every meeting would be treated with respect, without condescension, lecturing or interruption [Carol has acted otherwise.]
- Peter would try to promote authentic discussion of important issues by respect-fully questioning meeting participants on key points, welcoming courteous criticism and interjections, and asking critics to explain the basis for their positions [Carol’s repeated statements that she wants “conversations” on issues during her meetings is contradicted by her own behavior.]
- Outside experts would be present at every Town Meeting to serve as resource people for constituents [Carol has only now begun to introduce such people but, at a time when gas prices, the economy and Iraq are #’s 1,2,3 issues in priority of voters’ concerns, she has chosen to focus meetings on “the middle class” and “small business.” Could it be that she is reacting to Peter rather than responding to the public? – Peter has called for “strengthening the middle class” and criticized the glossy piece on the subject that she produced and distributed at taxpayer’s expense. 3 of the 5 items in that piece pertain to helping the poor, not the middle class. He is himself an acknowledged expert on entrepreneurship and small business development.]
- People who could not be physically present during Peter’s meetings would be enabled to attend online and submit real-time questions via e-mail hook-ups with Congressional staff or helpful volunteers who attend the meetings [not enabled by Carol’s staff during her meetings].
- Those who cannot attend would also be able to participate after-the-fact by accessing audio-visual recordings of the meetings via Peter’s Congressional website, YouTube and other outlets; also, by way of reading complete transcripts of the meetings available through the website and other outlets as well [not made available by Carol’s Congressional office, to our knowledge].
Thus, Peter’s Town Meetings would be a first – enabling maximum participation by, and maximum information provided to, citizens throughout the First Congressional District. All in all, the series of such meetings would amount to a rolling, virtually continuous, Town Meeting for the entire Congressional District – building a political community in the 1st District that would enable us, by interacting and working together, to make a greater difference in Congress on the issues of our heartfelt concern.
Citizens of the 1st District: What are your own suggestions as to how to improve the Town Meeting mode? Let rolling interactions roll – an electronic Town meeting on town meetings! Your thinking is welcome via www.PeterBearseforCongress.com or directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.