To the Editor:
Erik Paulsen has not held a town hall since Sept. 6, 2011. That’s six years of our representative avoiding his constituents. Paulsen’s work in Washington, D.C. reflects his disconnection from his constituents; his votes this year have been in lock-step with Speaker Ryan and President Trump, while he neglects the interests of his constituents.
For reference, when Paulsen last held a town hall, Jerry Kill and Leslie Frazier were starting their first seasons as head coaches of the Gophers and Vikings. Atmospheric carbon dioxide had not yet reached 400 parts per million in recorded history. A new era of freedom seemed inevitable in Syria and across the Middle East as the Arab Spring swept despots from power. While some parts of Obamacare had taken effect, Medicaid expansion and enrollment in the exchanges would not begin for two years. Suffice it to say, a lot has happened since Paulsen’s last town hall.
Town halls have been an indispensable forum for civil discourse in American communities for centuries. Town halls are where constituents can freely speak their minds and ask clarifying follow-up questions. Representatives can explain their priorities and gauge community reaction. Town halls open to the public to witness induce representatives to abide by their words. Perhaps most importantly in our increasingly online world, town halls bring the community together in one place.
Paulsen’s votes this year demonstrate he is more devoted to his party in D.C. than his constituents in Minnesota. He has voted for nearly everything Trump has asked for — mountaintop removal, eliminating consumer protections, kicking 23 million Americans off their health insurance, shielding Trump’s finances from scrutiny, and so on. This is not what voters elected Paulsen to do. Minnesotans cherish clean air and water. We want to punish unscrupulous businesses. We want affordable healthcare for all Americans. And when this district voted for Hillary Clinton for president and Paulsen for representative, we made it clear we wanted the checks and balances of a divided government.
Paulsen cannot be an effective representative until he fulfills his bare minimum job responsibility: holding regular town halls.