Congressman Raul Labrador has been unwilling to hold a town hall meeting to meet with constituents and hear their concerns. Better Idaho attended the Boise Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday to hear the Congressman speak.
After chatting with some of the hundreds of protesters outside we made our way indoors to the banquet room where red “Make America Great Again” hats were worn proudly.
Labrador’s keynote speech was mediocre. He bragged about being among the few members of the Federalist Society during college, and tried to illustrate his empathy for protestors these days as he joked about wearing “all black the day Bill Clinton was elected.” He admitted that Trump wasn’t his first pick or even his 16th pick for President initially but says his tune has changed now that he sees what a “can do” kind of leader Trump is turning out to be.
He left time for a few questions. Half a dozen comments and questions were posed to the Congressman. Three were in opposition to Labrador’s approach to leadership.
One woman began to ask a question by saying, “I don’t feel represented by you—I feel like you put the party over the people…” Labrador didn’t give her a chance to get a question in before cutting her off and making a flip comment about how she doesn’t know him personally.
The next question came from a woman who grew up on an Idaho farm. “Our farm wouldn’t survive without immigrants. What are we going to do about immigrant labor?” she asked. Instead of addressing her concerns, Labrador took a swipe at Democrats, stating that “Trump will do more for immigration reform than Hilary Clinton would have.” Further avoiding the question, he defended Trump’s unconstitutional immigration ban, stating that Trump wants to make America safe first. He said, “after we are safe, then we can deal with the 12 million illegals.”
I asked the last question. “There are hundreds of people outside protesting. Many that would like to know why you haven’t scheduled a town hall meeting as other leaders around the country have?”
Noticeably rattled and defensive, Labrador responded “you guys plaster Crapo’s DUI mug shot all over the place” and commented on how many town halls Crapo has held over time. In an attempt to redirect I said, “I’m not talking about Crapo, the question is about you.”
He became more defensive and condescending. Taking a page from Trump’s book, he shamed the Idaho Statesman, claiming they always report negatively about him. Directing his answer to me he said “people don’t even want town hall meetings, they are tired of them.”
He patronizingly recommended that if I wanted to do the work of his schedulers, I should talk to them. “It’s a hard job” he said. The Q and A was quickly shut down after Labrador became agitated. Ultimately, he said he would hold a town hall meeting.
Following the luncheon, a dozen people thanked me for asking this obvious and simple question. Every person commented on how they didn’t understand why the congressman got so upset when this was asked. Even some conservative attendees, who were there supporting Labrador, commented on the inappropriate nature of his replies.
Labrador’s response is not entirely surprising. His dismissal of anyone with an alternative viewpoint seems to be par for the course in today’s political climate. On Friday, the Trump administration banned most major media outlets from a White House press conference, denying the legitimacy of any disagreement with the President.
This may be a new era in American history but it will not be normalized or quietly accepted. We are going to follow up with Labrador’s office about that promised town hall meeting. He needs to hold one and he needs to hear from us. We will let you know if it ever gets put on the calendar.