August recess: Whither our NH representatives?
The congressional August recess used to be a time for members of Congress to tour their districts and meet with constituents. Like elementary school kids, members couldn't wait for recess.
Instead of needing to spend several days a week in Washington, members were freed up to travel throughout New Hampshire. This was especially true in election years, when visiting employers and holding town meetings doubled as campaigning.
Times have changed, or at least the priorities of our elected officials have. This August, you are more likely to see U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster on a milk carton than in person. They are hiding from their constituents. None has held a single town hall meeting this month, or in many months for that matter. Nor have any of them announced plans to hold one.
This is especially ironic in the cases of Shaheen and Shea-Porter.
Back in her campaign operative days, Shaheen scheduled scores, even hundreds, of public events for Gary Hart and other candidates for whom she worked. Shea-Porter made her name by stalking then-Congressman Jeb Bradley at dozens of the town hall meetings he held on a regular basis.
U.S. Sen. John McCain is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week. This means a senator from Arizona will have held more town hall meetings with New Hampshire voters this year than Sen. Shaheen has.
Town hall meetings are more than just a New Hampshire tradition. They are a vital component of representative democracy.
Guest editorial by Fergus Cullen.