|Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y.|
WASHINGTON – Call it the tea party that never ends.
A rebellion is brewing in home congressional districts of incumbent Democrats evidenced by the reaction at several town hall meetings.
Members are being forced to suspend meetings with their constituents, screaming protesters are being dragged out of events by police and officials are being greeted by protest signs and chants.
Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., has called off further events.
“I had felt they would be pointless,” he said. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”
In Bishop’s case, his decision came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry. You can watch that confrontation here.
Police had to be called to escort the 59-year-old Democrat to his car safely.
It’s not just members of the House who are getting lectured. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., heard from a very well-informed veteran – to the enthusiastic applause of all those gathered.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., also heard from the crowd when he made a gaffe by saying the work needs to be done “fast.”
|Constituents compare lawmaker to devil|
It seems to be the same all over the country.
At a health care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., in July, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police. Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla. Last week, Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., was chased today by a crowd saying the Pledge of Allegiance, as seen below:
|Veteran blasts non-veteran Rep. Bishop|
The biggest source of protests are the health-care bill, the $787 billion economic stimulus package and the cap-and-trade legislation. They’re also angry about Barack Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate to prove he is a “natural born citizen” and constitutionally eligible to serve in the White House.
Congressional Democrats are anticipating things will only get worse this month when Congress in recess. On Tuesday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who handles incumbent retention duties for House Democrats in addition to chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, met with freshman members to discuss their plans for the month-long August recess.
Some are planning to do their local constituent work by telephone conference calls rather than in-person meetings.
Some Democrats are blaming Republicans and lobbyists for stirring up the hornet’s nest.
Brian Smoot, who served as political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, warned Republicans about engaging in these kinds of ambushes.
“It’s a risk that they align themselves with such a small minority in the party … They risk alienating moderates,” he said.
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