I’m grateful to Nicole Tieman for her effort to delegitimize the complaints of people who have attended the Sensenbrenner town hall meetings (“Sensenbrenner aide: Town hall ‘uprising’ is scripted and doesn’t reflect the people,” March 30 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
She’s shown that the dissent has clearly touched a nerve.
I’ve been engaged in political activity of various kinds for years, and I’m meeting many new people, newly engaged in the governance of their country — far too many to be accounted for by “scripts.”
The Indivisible movement has offered legitimate — and apparently effective — ways for people to channel their worry, and occasional outrage, over affairs in Trump’s Washington. It’s true that people — including, presumably, people in Sensenbrenner’s offices — frequently use “talking points” to help clarify their own thinking. But the surge in citizens’ concern over bad policies and frustration over ineffective governance is unlike anything I’ve seen. If spontaneous does indeed mean “coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency,” the word fits perfectly.
(By the way, among the tips from Indivisible is an admonition to behave in a cordial and dignified way; There are no “scripts” calling for disruption. Indeed, it’s in the dissenters’ interest to have as many of their voices heard as possible, and they know it. Note also that disruptions, while unfortunate, pre-date the Indivisible movement, as those who regularly town halls can tell you.)
If Ms. Tieman is hoping to provide excuses for Rep. Sensenbrenner to forego future town halls, she’d better come up with a better reason than legitimate dissent that she finds disagreeable, instead of ginning up tall tales about torches and pitchforks.
I applaud the congressman’s longstanding willingness to attend town halls, and, while I don’t expect it, I would view it as an act of cowardly disservice to his constituents if he hid behind such flimsy excuses such as Ms. Tieman has offered.
If you, like so many others, are concerned about the turn things have taken since November, join us! You won’t be scripted or incited to riot.
But you will be heard.