At times like this, we all should be reminded of Harry S. Truman and the former president’s utterance “If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen.”
Congressman Andy Harris used to be so popular in Bel Air that he couldn’t wait to show up for his well-attended town hall meetings. Mostly, they were love fests, and he reveled in the blind adulation his true believers heaped on him.
More recently, those who don’t share his intractable positions and his incessant spewing of the Republican Party lines started showing up and bellowing their disapproval of his stands. Following people elsewhere in the country, who are also chafing at Republican Party rule, opposed to this, that or the other issue that Harris stands unabashedly with the Republican rhetoric, there are some who have made it their mission to give voice to their opposition.
Taking the safer, more pleasant route, Harris has followed some fellow Republicans in Congress, who have kept their distance from voters who may show up at meetings, and complain. Instead of showing up in person, Harris, and others, started showing up digitally.
The last time Harris meet the public in Bel Air was January 2016. He said he might be able to hold another in-person town hall in Bel Air in the spring, making it a mere two years plus since he faced his constituents. Each term in the House of Representatives is only two years.
Harris hides behind his publically stated logic that he can meet more people – thousands at a time – via teleconference compared to only 100 or so at each town hall meeting.
“We like doing it and we hear good feedback from it,” Harris said about the teleconferences.
The emperor used to like his new clothes and hear good feedback about them, too. Many of us know how that fairy tale turns out.
Too many elected officials think they’re anointed, forgetting who put them in office and why they’re supposed to be in Congress.
Congressional districts, including Maryland’s First District that elected Harris, have been so gerrymandered that once someone gets elected, there’s almost no threat he or she won’t easily get reelected.
For those who don’t think so, check out the First Congressional District that stretches from the most northern and western parts of Carroll County to the most southern and eastern portions of the Eastern Shore. As a result of those stretched out boundaries, according to the Maryland State Elections Board, there were 222,660 registered Republicans before the 2016 primary compared to 175,692 registered Democrats. There were 101,420 votes cast in that 2016 Republican primary and 58,276 votes cast in the Democratic primary.
That looks pretty solidly Republican, and incredibly safe for Harris, to us.
It’s safe enough that Harris should not be afraid to show up in person, let his opponents say their piece and the let his supporters shout them down. That approach is much more representative of American Democracy at work than it is to use a camera and video screen to keep the naysayers at bay.