Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) ends a Town Hall meeting in 2011 after tough questions from the audience about jobs, and the Republican proposed tax plan that strongly favored the wealthy.
Here's your chance to take part and push back! Progressive activists plan to turn up the heat on Republican lawmakers at their town hall meetings during the August recess with questions for them on issues such as Obamacare and immigration reform.
Americans United for Change will send representatives to Republican town halls mainly in swing states, but also in red states as the group tries to go after Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reports Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post.
"This is a new approach," said Brad Woodhouse, president of the progressive group. "The theory in the past has been to be stealth about the effort to confront members at town halls — but sometimes it's been too stealth, and we haven't generated enough activity."
"Since everyone knows that both sides are doing this, we're going to be public-facing about it," Woodhouse said.
The group recently launched Accountable Congress, giving those who want to participate information and tools about when and where GOP senators and House members will be speaking while on recess, complete with talking points on a variety of issues from immigration to gun violence.
Woodhouse says he hopes activists will engage with the lawmakers, ask tough questions, and report the results, so that Americans United can share the outcomes. They also plan to have daily conference calls to coordinate strategies with activists.
During the 2009 summer recess, Democrats faced an especially difficult time as Tea Party driven conspiracy theories dominated town hall meetings, often losing control of their message to shouts against "Obamacare," "death panels," and even "birtherisms."
With "Accountable Congress," progressives can feel empowered to confront Republicans in a town hall setting, with strong and informed commentary and questions on policy that keep the GOP on their toes and on the defensive. Such was the case in April when Senator Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) town hall event made news when she was confronted over her vote against expanding gun background checks by the daughter of a Sandy Hook shooting victim.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have put together their own playbook with information for lawmakers on meeting with constituents, promoting the Republican agenda in the House, and getting media attention.
"These members are accountable to their constituents no matter the venue," said Woodhouse. "They’ve refused to do the work of the American people, so the least they can do is answer for that –- whether they are appearing at a town hall or giving a speech at the local Chamber of Commerce -- whatever the venue is, we’ll try to have someone there."