ROSE NOLEN: Ignoring middle-class voices imperils members of Congress

Friday, September 9, 2011 | 5:07 p.m. CDT; updated 10:49 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 12, 2011

COLUMBIA — I was surprised by a report by The Associated Press that said some members of Congress, in an effort to avoid the rage of discontented voters, held fewer town hall meetings this summer than they have in the past.  

Considering their rude behavior, I thought some of them actually enjoyed uncivil discussions. I believe they have led the way into the current ugly exchanges that constitute much of today’s political debate.

I am encountering more and more individuals who are turned off by what they hear from Washington. Only those loyal to either of the two parties seem to find the hostile give-and-take a lot of fun.

At this crucial time in our history, when we need cool heads to come together and find solutions to our problems, our political leaders are working hard at fighting each other over trivial matters.

Evidently, members of Congress are so out of touch with the average American that they believe everyone is content with things the way they are.

But whether they're aware of it, everywhere people venture, they're likely to run into voters' ire. One can’t sit down to have a cup of coffee in a public place without being confronted by dissatisfaction stemming from one of the issues on the public agenda.

Apparently those in Congress don’t realize a trip to the grocery store these days, with prices seeming to rise by the hour, is enough to make tempers flare.

One more day without a job, for some people, can mean one step closer to facing foreclosure on a home.

An increase in the cost of a prescription drugs for those on fixed incomes can require eating one less meal a day.

There are probably several good reasons why voters are disgusted with their senators and representatives. Some of us would like them to quit campaigning for another term in office long enough to read the news and learn what’s going on in the nation they're supposed to serve.

One thing they would probably find out for sure is that refusing to hold town hall meetings and giving voters less opportunity to express their grievances is not going to make people happier.

Obviously, if they really don’t want to listen to voter complaints, it would be to their advantage to give them less to complain about. Every day it’s becoming more obvious to the middle class that they're being targeted for extinction.

For a long time, many suspected this was merely a conspiracy theory designed to frighten the insecure. But many of the actions of some congressional leaders — such as their determination to spare the rich from bearing their share of the tax burden and their support of big business — have caused middle-class Americans to take a second look at their agenda.

Middle-class Americans understand what a Third World country looks like. They realize that a country populated by two classes of people, the rich and the poor, competing in the world’s economy finishes at the bottom of the heap, and they are not anxious to go there. Many are willing to do whatever it takes to get this country back on the right track.

And members of Congress might get away with refusing to face their constituencies for the time being, but when election time comes around, they will have to come out of hiding if they wish to run again.

There will be no hiding places, and they will have no choice but to face the voters who believed in them and discovered they have been deceived.

Almost every day, people are skeptical that we will be able to get out of this mess in the next few years. The most anyone can do is remain alert, stay informed and study the field of upcoming nominees carefully.

Instead of listening to what they say they will do, study their records and examine what they have done in the past.

Frankly, I’m still holding out for an alternative to the two parties we currently have.

I know it's wishful thinking, but all fulfilled dreams began with a wish.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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