Congressman Jay Inslee has scheduled two health care townhall meetings with his constituents. Given the cowardly behavior of other legislators across the country, he’s to be commended for doing so on his own initiative.
Unfortunately, given his recent statements, it’s unlikely that he’s really interested in hearing what his constituents have to say, unless, of course, they’re likely to vote for him in the next election. Further evidence of his lack of interest can be found in the leaked e-mail from Dwight Pelz, Washington State Democratic Chairman, to various progressive groups that reveals a possible astroturf situation. (Jimmie Bise provides an excellent explanation of astroturfing at The Sundries Shack.)
Whether or not the e-mail constitutes astroturfing remains to be seen but that isn’t really my point. What I find disturbing here, as I already mentioned, is the evidence that Pelz and Inslee are taking steps to pack the townhalls with supporters. If Inslee were really interested in what his constituents think about health care reform, he’d merely announce the meetings and wait to see who showed up.
What really is the point of a townhall meeting if it’s not to engage in an honest dialogue with constituents? Disturbingly, it appears as though Inslee and Pelz consider it an opportunity to control the dialogue by manipulating the composition of the audience and mislead the public about the level of support for a fundamental transformation of our health care system…on our own dime.