In “Tillis is open to town halls, minus shouting,” 3/6/17, N&O, Senator Thom Tillis alleges that people who go to his town hall meetings shout and call names, so he doesn’t go. In fact, he has not been to a town hall meeting this year (the $25 a head Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting on March 6 does not count, nor does the March 7th phone call he offered with only an hours’ notice on social media). It is natural he does not know what to expect.
Senator Tillis, we have been to two town hall meetings held in your honor, and you’ve got it all wrong.
First, the people there are not scary or menacing. They look like, well, people. You don’t have to take our word for it though, there are lots of pictures online.
Second, nobody has been yelling – not at each other and not at the picture of you where we wish you were – and nobody has been calling each other names. They have been waiting patiently in line, and when it is their turn, they have asked questions or shared information that is important for you to hear. But, you don’t hear them or answer because you are not there.Third, it is possible that when talking about deeply personal experiences, people will raise their voices. It is known as passion. It is also possible that passion could manifest more when you choose to show up. The longer you delay, the more frustration constituents may have at being ignored, dismissed, and discounted.
In any event, at some point you have to meet with your constituents. When you do, and to the extent you have done things, like support (or fail to oppose) people and matters that upset them, it is your job to put on your big boy Senator pants, take responsibility, and listen. It is called doing your job. It is called being accountable. Maybe you will learn something from the people you represent.
There’s still time to hold town halls. Congressman David Price is doing a round of them. Senator Tillis should too.
Organizer, Women’s March on Raleigh
President, NC National Organization for Women