Last week both the upper and lower houses of our United States Congress went into recess, purportedly to return home and interface with their constituents. Constituents, by definition, being the men and women represented by elected officials, the majority of whom cast their vote in the affirmative to seat that selfsame official.
Our East Tennessee contingent of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation is composed of two Senators and four Congressmen with offices in East Tennessee as follows:
Senator Alexander - Blountville, Chattanooga, Knoxville
Senator Corker - Chattanooga, Jonesborough, Knoxville
Congressman DesJarlais - Cleveland
Congressman Duncan - Knoxville and Maryville
Congressman Fleischmann - Athens, Chattanooga, and Oak Ridge
Congressman Roe - Kingsport and Morristown
We're told they've come home to wander around their respective districts to speak with their homies much like Tennessee favorite son Colonel David Crockett, the original who was almost 50 years old when he lost a hand-to-hand combat exercise with a bunch of Mexican soldiers, but they knew he was there and he took several with him, not that cat who drives a black Suburban around Chattanooga in the middle of summer telling the rest of us we need to drive smaller cars and become greenies, was doing during his fictionalized encounter with Horatio Bunce.
Where are they?
As of this writing, noon-ish on Monday, Aug. 12, only one of the six has any town hall meetings scheduled... Congressman Roe from way upper East Tennessee. Congressman DesJarlais, in fact, had a Tele-Townhall sign-up on his web page Saturday. It's gone now.
They tell us a Tele-Townhall, a spiffy name for a big conference call, is more efficient. It may be, but it's also a good way of hiding, of not having to face one's constituents, of not having to look into the eyes of someone whose pocket he's just reached into and grabbed what someone else has worked hard to earn. Isn't it.
They want our money to campaign for office. They want our votes to be first elected, then stay in office. They demand our tax dollars to pay for their feel-good projects with the force of a government gun. With that same gun they take our money to support themselves and their families. They tell us how to live our lives, going so far as to dictate what types of toilets and light bulbs we'll use in our homes, offices, and shops.
With hubris, they lecture us about courage.
Then don't have the nads to face their constituents to explain themselves. If they do honor us with their presence they're only asked soft, meaningless questions in venues with attendees who don't want to offend.
In his short story A Madison Square Arabian Night, American author O. Henry writes of an artist he named Sherrard Plumer whose portraits showed the true, hidden character of the sitter. It's too bad that was fiction, isn't it. How many in Congress possess the nobility, the sense of honor of Remsen in The Badge Of Policeman O'Roon?
It's raining. I need chocolate.
Royce Burrage, Jr.