Email #155: “the Republican Party will be rewarded”?

President Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney thinks you should hold a town meeting this week. He was asked on Sunday about the passage of the American Health Care Act:

“Should House members who passed it go home, and have town halls, and campaign on it?”

Mulvaney answered:

“Absolutely. Without reservation. In fact, I would be surprised if that’s not exactly what they’re doing. That’s what I would do…. I’d be ecstatic about going back and saying, ‘Look, here is what we did.’”

According to your December press release about his White House appointment, you “applaud” and “look forward to working with Mulvaney.” So then why are you now “surprising” him by not holding a town hall as he is urging? Why are you not “ecstatic” to meet with your constituents and hear their applause?

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus agrees with Mulvaney about the positive reception House Republicans will receive for their AHCA vote:

“I think that the Republican Party will be rewarded.”

Speaker Ryan does too. He says the vote will save House Republicans in the 2018 mid-term elections:

“People expect their elected leaders, if they run and campaign on doing something, they expect them to do that. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re keeping our word… I would argue that we would spell disaster for ourselves, politically, if we go back on our word.”

So why aren’t you holding a town hall to be rewarded for keeping your word? You don’t have the worries of your fellow Virginia Representative Dave Brat who is one of 24 Republicans being target by the health advocacy group Save My Care in a six-figure ad campaign criticizing them for their support of the AHCA. Our district is so overwhelmingly Republican, no national organizations are going to waste their money challenging you. And yet Brat said in a town hall last night:

“It’s very clear there’s a disproportionate number of Democrats in the room. And that’s good. You’re all my constituents, and I want to represent all of you.”

Do you feel differently? Do you only represent Republicans voters? Is that why you refuse to hold town halls?

If you’re worried about outside agitators, you could follow Iowa Republican Rod Blum’s model and require participants to prove they live in the district before being allowed to enter the town hall auditorium. He also made sure they weren’t carrying signs or noise-makers. Blum wasn’t “ecstatic”—he stormed out of a televised interview earlier in the day—but he still faced his constituents on Monday night.

So why won’t you? Blum was already facing difficult re-election prospects before he voted for the AHCA, but your seat is still considered extremely safe. The Cook Political Report gives our district a +13 Republican score, while Blum’s Iowa district is +1 Democrat. If one of you should be too afraid to stand in front of a crowd of voters, it’s Blum. And yet he did and you won’t. Why?

Even Tom MacArthur, the Representative responsible for the highly criticized amendment that allows states to strip down benefits and penalize people with pre-existing conditions, plans to hold a town hall this week. MacArthur, Blum, Brat, Ryan, Priebus, Mulvaney–they all think you should too.

You announced the day before the AHCA vote:

“I told my constituents that I would stand for them to repeal Obamacare, and I intend to keep that promise.”

So now stand before us and keep your promise to hold a town hall meeting.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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