It’s been said that for progressives protesting is the new brunch, and organizing is the new happy hour. But a lot of lawmakers aren’t appreciating the new found attention they’re receiving from their previously quiet constituency.

Virginia Congressman Dave Brat has been repeatedly complaining that “the women are in my grill no matter where I go.” Here’s a video of his whining to a conservative audience in Richmond, VA this past Saturday, who he later asks for help. “Help us write newspaper articles. We’re getting hammered.” Unable to accept that he might actually have constituents who disagree with his policy positions (imagine!), Brat accuses the protesters as “paid activists paid activists on the far left, not my Democratic friends I go to church with . . . They’re being paid to go around and raise havoc.”

Brat isn’t the only member of Congress to be shocked by progressives wanting to speak to them about their policies. Across the country, lawmakers are literally running out of their own town halls or failing to show up at all because they are packed with constituents demanding answers on the so-called “repeal and replace” plan (or lack thereof), the Muslim ban, and more.

Addressing the concerns of constituents is the entire reason we elect representatives to Congress. They are supposed to literally represent the will of the people while acting as check on the Executive Branch of our government. Congress is not meant to simply roll over to whatever the President demands, even if they share the same party. So what do we do? Demand to be heard. Hold their feet to the fire.

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So now what?

For today’s #FiveMinutes, check out townhallproject2018.com. Search for your members of Congress. Are they each listed as having upcoming events? Mark it in your calendar and tell your local friends!

Are any of your members not listed? Call their office(s) and find out when they’re hosting their next public event. Specify that you are most interested in events that the Representative/Senator will be attending in person. If they tell you when the upcoming event(s) is/are, send that information to townhallproject2018@gmail.com.

If they make excuses about schedules, etc., ask about the upcoming district work period the week of February 20. What are the member’s plans for meeting with constituents? State that YOU would like to meet with the  member with some of your fellow constituents about issues that matter to you, so can you please speak with the scheduler to get something on the calendar.

(Have an event coming up but not sure what to do? Check out Chapter Four of the Indivisible Guide. Excellent quick read that will leave you feeling fired up and ready to go.)

Here’s a quick vignette for Morgantown, WV (where Sara lives). For three weeks, every Tuesday, a group of concerned citizens went to Senator Shelly Moore Capito’s (R-WV) district office. In addition to discussing concerns with her staffer, the uber-preppy good sport Hampton Cokeley, the group also spoke respectfully but forcefully about the need for a town hall meeting with the Senator. They also took the receptionist’s phone number and email so they could follow up about a meeting.

AND IT WORKED! Lo and behold, starting next week, there are Mobile Office Hours around the state. Now, is this a town hall with the Senator? No, but it is an opportunity to talk directly with a staffer and to show the weight behind the movement. (We’re hoping for photos of concerned citizens spilling out of the room.)

I’ll leave you all with this. Nearly three million more people voted for HRC than DJT. This isn’t a tirade on the electoral college or that DJT shouldn’t be president – this is a reminder that we are the majority. We have a different vision for this nation. The government is about more than the presidency, and it is our duty as citizens to be vigilant defenders of what we hold to be true: civil rights and safety for all, a free and independent press, quality education for our kids, affordable and accessible health care, a clean environment for generations to come, and on and on. Don’t forget what is important to you, and fight for it.

Onward!

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Top photo of Rep. Coffman (R-CO) escaping out the back door in the middle of his scheduled town hall.
Middle photo by Alice Ollstein