With Congress in recess, the left is trying to capture some of that 2009 Tea Party magic, staging angry protests at town halls hosted by Congressional Republicans, in their home districts. They are setting a trap, and Republicans need to be smart to avoid it. If, like Senator Tom Cotton did, you hold the event in spite of protests, it becomes a marquis event for the left-wing protest machine to attend, and even with articulate answers, the optics of being screamed at by constituents* aren’t good. On the other hand, the media is eager to berate any Republicans who don’t walk into their traps. Politico ran a story “Rubio skedaddles from demonstrator over skipping town halls”, castigating the Florida Senator for “fleeing” a fake townhall stunt put on by a left wing activist group, as if he is obliged to show up at every sham event his opponents construct.
So, here’s my free advice to the GOP Senators and Representatives (except for Lisa Murkowski, who inexplicably doesn’t have any leftists hounding her):
First, call their bluff. Next recess, flood the zone with town hall meetings. Hold 2-3 per day every day, across your state or district, over the course of a weekend. Dare them to sustain those levels of attendance and energy. If the protests are truly organic, it shouldn’t be any trouble. If they are orchestrated, make the organizers earn it. If there’s one thing that scares away left-wing protesters, its making the protest seem too much like work.
Second, turn the event into a food drive for the local food bank. Require a 5 dollar donation or canned goods at the door. If they balk at the donation, let them in, but only after they make a scene in front of the cameras about having to do something charitable with their own money. Then, by all means, welcome them in to yell about hurling them back to the medieval health care system of 2009, or undoing the dramatic lowering in sea levels that we saw during the last 8 years.