Dial a constituent

A politician may call you to ask for your input on issues. Seriously, this is happening in Nevada. U.S. Rep Dean Heller held a telephone town hall meeting on the evening of June 25. Waiting on cue to ask questions, participants listened to fellow Nevadans’ concerns and heard responses from Heller.

Many callers were disgruntled over illegal immigrants receiving the Social Security benefits for which they have paid in withheld wages. Periodically, a poll question asked participants if they support spending, oppose spending or are undecided on the issue. Heller warned that the recently rejected immigration bill would cost $2.6 trillion, which was one reason he opposes the bill and supports enforcing the laws already in place.

Nevadans voiced concerns about the tax code, the Iraq war, ethics reform and the increasing cost of goods, from milk to energy, that impact everyday life in our state. Two callers wanted Karl Rove indicted for treason. David Leiburg of Sparks wanted Heller to address Social Security and Medicaid obligations.

Heller offered responses. He doesn’t support the “amnesty” bill. He’s for permanent tax cuts with no tax increases. He agrees that people are paying the price for bad policies, Social Security included. He’s committed to the surge in Iraq, but conceded we need to get the troops off the front lines and an exit strategy.

Some participants promptly wrote about the experience and posted their reactions online. One of them, whose blog displays her support for Fred Thompson for president, wrote, “[Heller] actually came on the line and announced that he was in his Washington, D.C., office and he was holding a teleconference town hall meeting and would be discussing issues ongoing in Congress, AND our personal local tragedy, the Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe. He addressed immigration, Iraq, taxes, economy and any other issue currently pertinent. As constituents, we were encouraged to ask or comment about anything on our minds. I listened intently (this call lasted over one hour). Persons did come on the phone and ask or comment to him directly. As one would figure, whether Democrat or Republican, there were a couple of morons, but mostly the questions and/or comments were very legitimate and well spoken, and both parties were represented. It was live, and he did speak to each person directly. … As one can imagine, if he called every registered voter (even if just those in his party), or everyone in the county. … One hour only allows so many calls. However, at the end of the teleconference there was an opportunity to leave a message, and he vowed to respond.”

This Fred Thompson Republican’s description of the experience, which can be found at http://comejoinin.blogspot.com/2007/06/congressman-dean-heller-town-hall.html, was interesting enough that it was posted in its entirety on a rural Nevada Democrats’ blog, http://ruralnvdemcaucus.blogspot.com.