On Wednesday, I gathered with 20 or so community members at Rep. Luetkemeyer's office to voice concerns over the tax cut bill and its potentially detrimental effects to the safety net and insurance programs that provide important benefits to many Missourians. One request of those gathered at Luetkemeyer's office was a response from him. The response from his communications staff, as reported in the newspaper, "did not address any of the protesters' concerns." Instead the congressman's open-door policy, social media activity and telephone town hall meetings were lifted up as ways that he is listening. In Saturday's "Blaine's Bulletin: Constituent Services" it says that Rep. Luetkemeyer reviews all the feedback his staff hears and that he takes those concerns to Washington to make sure Congress hears them as well.
As someone who has participated in several meetings and constituent service days, I have a hard time understanding how my concerns are being voiced to Congress by my elected representative. On March 21, in a meeting attended by five local pastors, we delivered a letter signed by more than 20 local clergy, and specifically asked for a meeting with the representative, which would be attended by ourselves and at least five members of each of our congregations. We were asking our elected representative to meet with a group of at least 100 of his constituents who were very concerned about an issue. We're still waiting.
On March 27 and April 10, a colleague and I emailed asking that staff please confer with our congressman to get the meeting scheduled. On April 17, I received an email stating that they were working on the May/June schedules and hoped to have some available days the next week. On Sept. 28, at a constituent service meeting in Jefferson City, I read the response from April 17 and asked again if we could please get the meeting scheduled, because there were a great number of people who felt that their voices were not being heard. Today is Dec. 8. Representative Luetkemeyer's constituents continue to take time off work and other activities to show up and participate in their representative democracy. The lack of substantive response seems to speak for itself. Maine Sen. Susan Collins spoke by phone to her constituents for half an hour when they staged a day long sit-in at her Portland office. Perhaps that's what it takes. We'll wait.