If a congressman holds a listening session and only one constituent shows up, is it a failure of participatory democracy or a fine example of the beauty of the democratic process?
Craig Gilbert, a political reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, kicked off the question this week when he tweeted this photo of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talking with Dave Mantz, the only person who showed up.
Went to GOP Cong. Jim Sensenbrenner’s town hall this morning in the Wisconsin town of Rubicon (pop 2,249) and just 1 constituent showed up. Dave Mantz had the floor to himself. The two politely discussed their differences on net neutrality … then discussed them a little more pic.twitter.com/EvlrSYENzC — Craig Gilbert (@WisVoter) June 4, 2018
Mantz was there to talk about net neutrality, a subject on which he and the congressman disagree.
Sensenbrenner has held 41 meetings with constituents so far this year, according to Gilbert. He’s one of the few Washingtonians still holding them.
“I went to his town hall in Hartford Sunday night that drew 22 people. His town halls in Neosho and Lebanon Monday morning drew four and one respectively, according to an aide, Gilbert writes.
Whether these things do any good at all in the age of big money is debatable.
And this one was held in a small town where people go to work during the day in a district that is about as safe for the incumbent as any.
Still, it feels as though there’s a disconnect between the non-stop political coverage of news organizations 10 weeks before a primary, and the willingness of potential voters to care about any of it.