The Atlantic reports — and we know this in Arkansas already — that Trump resistance exists and seems to be gaining momentum in red states. It’s not only those dreaded “coastal elites” with concerns about the direction of the country.
The article notes Tea Party-style turnouts at congressional town hall meetings, a development that has some Republicans literally running scared.
“After outpourings of rage at some early town halls,” Vice reported on Thursday, “Republicans are ducking in-person events altogether, opting instead for more controlled Facebook Live or ‘tele-town-halls,’ where questions can be screened by press secretaries and follow-ups are limited.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock has dodged public meetings, opting instead last week for one of those telephone town halls with calls screened by his press aide. He filibustered answers in a controlled setting impossible for critics to be effectively heard, much less assume control. Hill will be within reach of the public Tuesday morning at a Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce forum from 9:30 to 11 a.m. But I doubt the unwashed public will be freely admitted.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, after a national black eye for battening down office hatches against visitors, HAS scheduled a town hall, in the friendly confines of Northwest Arkansas. It will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Jones Center in Springdale.
A local group of activists is working to turn out some alternate fact-carriers for the event.
Ozark Indivisible is rounding up interested parties to ask questions to Cotton (and encouraging civil behavior, by the way.) It’s also encouraging a turnout for U.S. Rep. Steve Womack’s tightly controlled public appearance next week — one hour, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, at tiny West Fork City Hall.
Though Republicans have tried to dismiss such organizing as unreflective of majority sentiment or — more dishonestly — as a product of paid agitation. But The Atlantic points to some responses that show these activities can make a difference. Loss of passion is a concern.
Activists in red states run the risk of becoming demoralized if the reception they receive from conservative lawmakers and voters isn’t what they would like. GOP voters and elected officials have, after all, stood by Trump through plenty of high-profile controversies that might have sunk any other politician, and so far seem likely to remain loyal to the president and his policies. The question now is whether these activists can avoid burnout, expand their ranks, and convince lawmakers to take their concerns seriously.
Trump’s continued erratic behavior might be the best tool available to the resistance. So far, it shows no sign of abating.