Congressman Mike Bishop (R-MI8) was nowhere to be seen, but hundreds of his constituents stood in line in the lobby of the East Lansing Public Library and on the sidewalk outside while his staffers met with small groups of them at a time.
Outdoors, and even in the normally quiet library lobby, protesters carried signs and called attention to Bishop, who is performing his job like an absentee landlord. Hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents have demanded an in-person town hall for the past month, but he refuses to meet them. Instead, he dispatched his staffers to East Lansing to meet with residents in absentia.
For more than an hour For more than an hour on Thursday, two staffers met with constituents — in small groups of two and three per staffer — in a conference room at the library. Those meetings, visible through a window in a closed door, appeared to be calm and cordial. However, when the staffers left shortly after the scheduled end of the event, dozens of people remained in line and started chanting “do your job” as the staffers left.
One staffer was “intimidated” by a demonstrator, Ford said, and was followed out to his car as he tried to leave.
(Staffer Kelli) Ford said Bishop’s staff have “spent hours upon hours to get responses to these people.” In an email to the State Journal, she said 60,000 households have been reached through “tele-town halls” this year; more than 5,000 emails have been sent directly in response to constituent concerns; two mobile office hours events have been held this year, including Thursday’s; staff have conducted 55 separate meetings with constituents or constituent groups; and Bishop himself has held 30 meetings with constituents or constituent groups.
“The false information spiraling form this group has gotten out of control,” Ford said, “and you can quote me on that … This is an organized, politicized effort, and it’s not about speaking with the congressman at all.”
Well, a few things, Kelli.
- Mike Bishop had better “do his job,” it’s what we’re paying him for. And one of the most important parts of his job is listening to the people he represents. It’s nothing against you, Kelli, but the people want to talk to their representative directly, without you as an intermediary.
- When people are repeatedly ignored, they may try to follow you as you walk just to get a chance to be heard. This is what happens when their requests for a town hall go ignored, and what happens when you and other staffers leave after just an hour while hundreds of people still wait around to be heard. Maybe if the channels of communication were more open, no one would have to face the sheer horror of encountering other people in the parking lot.
- It is YOUR JOB to spend hours upon hours replying to “these people.” And what the hell, really. “THESE PEOPLE.” Don’t you dare look down on us. We are Bishop’s constituents. There would be no him without us.
- The tele-town halls you mention are for suckers. During the tele-town hall last night, that you claimed reach 30,000 people, many waited for 15 minutes or more for a call, while others never got a call at all. And it is damned near impossible to get a question in among 29,999 other people, whereas it’s much easier to be heard in an audience of 100. Again, the people demand a real town hall, not a managed dog and pony show.
- I don’t know what “false information” you’re talking about. Bishop has proudly stated his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and his support of Trump and his Muslim ban. Maybe, like Trump, “false news” to you is anything you find inconvenient.
- You aren’t lying when you say this is an organized political effort. Get used to it, and get ready for more, because we’re not quitting.
- You are absolutely wrong when you say this is not about access to Bishop. As our servant, that is our right and our expectation. And if he can’t manage to do that, he should get ready to look for a new job. And you, too, Kelli