Steve Daines was keen to let Montanans know that he headed to the US border with Mexico this week for a series of dishonest photo ops, tweeting non-stop about his planned visit and getting conservative talk show radio hosts and friendly media to cover his visit.
None of those outlets chose to follow up on Daines’s suggestion that US Border Patrol agents watched migrants cross the border without any effort to intercept them, so Daines was no doubt delighted to get some coverage of his trip that he so carefully promoted on his Senate site and Twitter account.
That alacrity to promote events is somewhat less evident, however, when it comes to informing Montanans about opportunities to meet with their Senator. Daines, who hasn’t had a publicly noticed townhall where he interacts with constituents for almost three years, seems to have been outed by the Glasgow Courier, which reports that Daines will be having a townhall meeting there tomorrow at the VFW.
A review of Daines’s social media presence and a search of his official Senate page, however, do not show that Daines actively informed his constituents about this rare opportunity to interact with a Senator who has proven himself to be a regular Salinger. Despite copious self-promotion on his Facebook page about his border visit, no mention of an upcoming opportunity for Daines to speak to the people he ostensibly represents.
We give Daines and Gianforte a hard time here at the Post for their cowardice when it comes to meeting with the people of this state, but the critique is more than partisan heckling directed at millionaires afraid of mingling with the commoners. As Martin Kidston notes in his timely commentary today, we’ve lost something when politicians refuse to give access to the press to cover them and the people who elect them:
[S]omething has changed. The wheels have gone off the tracks. Access is challenged, if not impossible. Politicians hide from their constituents, seemingly frightened to answer questions from the press on issues related to their own voting record. They permit their vague statements over social media to serve as the golden word, unchallenged and without question. No detail needed, so don’t bother asking.
You have to wonder how long a democratic system can last when politicians refuse to engage in the give and take of democratic discourse and hide between pre-screened phone calls and canned statements issued by handlers in D.C. You have to wonder just what it is that leaves Steve Daines so afraid of us.
So, good people of Glasgow, if Steve Daines really is coming to your town to speak to you, you better take advantage of it. A Montana Republican at a public town hall is rarer sight than a member of the Trump team not under criminal or ethical investigation.
If Steve does show, make it count.