Suppose they held a protest, and no one saw

A little follow-up on our last item about a few Republican members of the House returning to their districts and holding public events only for paying customers, uh, constituents.  In addition to raising money, the members of Congress were trying to avoid exactly those embarrassing youtube moments that recirculate in the e-ther.  I said that activists would look to find other places to make news, but it would probably take even more dramatic, loud, and disruptive action to break through into the news.

Over at Slate, David Weigel has found both successes and failures in reaching the news when the member of Congress won’t provide a spotlight and microphone.

Self-described “gay barbarians”have flashmobbed Marcus Bachmann’s clinic, protesting the Christian therapist’s comments about gays specifically, and Michele Bachmann and

Gay Barbarians

conservatives more generally.  It’s theatrical and entertaining stuff, and it’s made some news reports.  The name and the color and the confrontation make news.

Of course, Michele Bachmann is in Iowa, running for president, and not available in her district.

Constituents boo Rep. Ryan

In Wisconsin, Rep. Paul Ryan, who has declined a run for the White House, has been in the district, but constituents say it doesn’t make him any more accessible.  Rep. Ryan, who has been burned before by a videotaped confrontation at a town meeting,  scheduled no open events with constituents, and apparently refused to meet with constituents who have a problem with his political stances.  Weigel’s posted video that shows how hard it has been for political opponents stalking Rep. Ryan to make it into the news.  Here, they are banned not only from their representative’s office, but even the building in which it’s located.

I’d expect that they’ll find some way to make news, and it will look pretty silly and/or dangerous.

The point: authorities have a great deal of control over the sites in which they meet opponents, and therefore, the kinds of tactics that their opponents can use.  People who can’t be heard when talking in a conversational voice are likely to start to yell–or, at least put on costumes.

About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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