GOP Town Halls Are Getting Flooded with Angry Constituents

Dozens of Republicans across the country are canceling the appearances altogether.

Aaron P. Bernstein/ZUMA

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Republican leaders returned to their home districts this week for the first congressional recess of the year and were faced with a barrage of questions from large crowds of angry constituents packed into school gymnasiums and other public meeting spaces. Many lambasted their elected officials over GOP plans to repeal Obamacare, President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, his cabinet picks, and more.

On Tuesday alone, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), in Fairview, Rep. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), in Maquoketa , Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in Iowa Falls, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in Louisville, were all met by loud jeers and calls to confront Trump over his most controversial policies, including his plan to build a border wall and block refugee resettlement.

At one point, one woman, demanding answers about the president’s energy proposals, told McConnell that if he properly addressed her concerns, she would “sit down and shut up just like Elizabeth Warren”—a reference to his controversial suppression of the Massachusetts senator’s reading of a Coretta Scott King letter last month.

“I hope you feel better,” McConnell replied.

The citizen protests began earlier this month when videos from Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-Utah) rocky town hall near Salt Lake City went viral after demonstrators repeatedly chanted “Do your job!” at the House Oversight Committee chair. Such images and others have inspired many Republicans to either substitute face-to-face meetings with conference calls or cancel town halls altogether. Or, as in the case of Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), to relocate a planned meeting 60 miles from where most of his constituents live. The move, which he blamed on crowd size, drew criticism from critics who charged Brat with attempting to evade protesters.

On Monday, Trump dismissed the hostile crowds as paid protests organized by Democrats.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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