I love participatory democracy. Almost wish we had caucuses in Illinois. I think candidate debates, coffees with legislators and town hall meetings are fun. But in case you haven’t noticed, it snowed this year – a lot. The last thing I want to do is leave my house for any reason. (I did brave the snow to vote.)
That’s just one of the reasons I love Congressman Mark Kirk’s Tele-Town Hall meetings. Tele-town halls are live telephone conference calls to tenth district citizens hosted by Kirk once or twice each month. In addition to his regular town halls, the tele-town halls can reach hundreds and, on occasion, thousands of people. The congressman can host the call from DC or the district. They allow for civil discourse and feedback from ordinary people so if you get a recorded call one day soon to participate in a tele-town hall - stay on the line. You don’t have to drive. You can wear sweats. You don’t have to brave the elements. And you and your fellow citizens get to ask questions and hear thoughtful responses from an elected official who clearly cares about his constituents and has thought long and hard on the most pressing issues of the day.
I don’t agree with every answer but I am always impressed with Kirk’s depth and breadth of knowledge and how hard he must work to maintain that level of understanding on a broad range of topics. I am equally impressed with the concerns and perspectives of my neighbors and learn about what matters to real people and how public policy impacts real lives.
It is participatory democracy at its finest - from the comfort of my own favorite chair sipping a diet pepsi.