Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
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).

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail