Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Potemkin Town Meetings

 

Philadelphia, Penn.

President Bush claims he’s holding “conversations” all around the country on his plans to “reform” or “save” Social Security. These purported dialogues with the public take place at gatherings which the president likes to characterize as “town meetings.”

Now as a native of Connecticut, a New England state that prides itself for its town meeting form of local government, and as a reporter who got his start covering such exercises in real people’s government, I have to say that I know town meetings and Mr. Bush, those are not town meetings.

Real town meetings, a form of direct democracy developed by the early settlers in New England in preference to the old European model of representative government that featured mayors and counselors, tend to be pretty freewheeling and rambunctious affairs, where any citizen can attend, speak out on an issue from the floor, and vote on the issue at hand.

As I wrote in an article in CounterPunch two months ago, when I tried to go to one of those Bush “town meetings” that was set up at a community college a couple miles from my house, I found myself turned away by Republican Party goons barring the entrance-something that would never happen at a real town meeting. It turned out that, as with all the president’s “public” meetings on this issue, you have to have a ticket to get in, and those tickets are being handed out only by Republican members of Congress.

No wonder the crowds seem so friendly on TV!

What I’m really surprised at, though, is how passive the Democrats have been about this road show charade.

The huckster ­in-chief, after all, is traveling the country not as a candidate for office, but as the President of the United States. He’s making this tour at taxpayer expense, and he’s holding his meetings in public buildings-in my case at an auditorium belonging to the Montgomery County Community College. But he’s only talking to Republicans. Even people with tickets are being turned away if it appears they may have contrarian ideas, like several people who arrived at one such event in Colorado with tickets, but with a bumper sticker on their car saying “No Blood for Oil.” The president’s GOP goons apparently aren’t just blocking the doors; they’re spying in the parking lot, too.

Why aren’t Democratic senators and representatives screaming bloody murder at this scam?

I asked my local representative, the recently elected Democratic Rep. Alyson Schwartz, when she led a teach-in on Social Security at Temple University.

“Shouldn’t you Congressional Democrats be screaming about not being offered tickets to distribute at these presidential events?” I asked her.

“Well I guess maybe we should be,” she agreed.

That was over a week ago.

I still haven’t heard a word of complaint about it from either Rep. Schwartz or from other members of the so-called opposition in Congress.

Why are these people, who are supposed to be the opposition, so quiet? If Congresswoman Schwartz, for example, had stood outside the auditorium at Montco Community College decrying the inability of her Democratic constituents to get into the building and “dialogue” with the president, maybe the somnolent TV reporters who didn’t even notice or remark on the packing of the hall would have actually reported on the president’s deceit.

Instead, we got reports that evening about how supportive the public seems to be of the president, and how worried people at the event seemed to be about the viability of the Social Security system.

President Bush is a hypocrite of the first order in calling for democracy in the Islamic world and the states of the former Soviet Union while he creates a Potemkin democracy for himself to operate in. But the Democrats who assist him in this stage management effort by remaining silent as they and their constituents are shut out of the debate are perhaps even worse.

They have become a Potemkin opposition.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail