This isn't the short piece I'd hoped to write tonight about Sen. Pat Toomey. Earlier today, there was a buzz of excitement over news that the beleaguered -- I think we can call him that at this point -- Pennsylvania GOP senator would meet face-to-face with members of the activist group Tuesdays with Toomey. And the chances looked excellent, they reported, that Toomey would commit to holding an open town hall in Philadelphia -- the No. 1 priority for Tuesdays with Toomey since it began rallying outside his offices in Philadelphia and then all around the state late last year.
So I was filled with pride and praise for our spunky local activists, who showed the world that things happen when you speak up, yada yada yada....but then not so much happened. The just-reelected Toomey did meet with some of his prodders -- but he refused to commit to the kind of town hall that they (and others, myself included) have been seeking. Instead, he went on CBS3's Facebook site for a 17-minute "Facebook Live" thing that was kind of similar to the telephone town hall he held last month, and just as unsatisfying.
Tuesdays with Toomey was "disappointed." The group tweeted earlier today:
Actually, #ToomeyTownHall has to be the lonliest hashtag on all of Twitter. The dude hasn't had a town hall anywhere in Pennsylvania since 2013, and those tended to be in places like Coudersport where the bass outnumber human beings. The thing is, Toomey was re-elected in November -- narrowly, but re-elected nonetheless -- to a term that lasts for six years. In a world where yesterday was four Donald Trump scandals ago, 2022 might as well be the 22nd Century. Constitutionally, Pat Toomey works for us, the citizens of Pennsylvania. Politically, he's not feeling that pressure, even as frustrated mobs gather outside his office.
Yes, I understand the 1787 thinking on this -- that the U.S. Senate is the deliberative body, comprised of deep thinkers above the rabble. Initially, senators were for the most part elected by state legislators, providing another layer between the U.S. Senate and the people. Direct election changed that -- but in the way we do our elections in the 21st Century, it seems like senators do a better job over their six years remembering their campaign contributors than contemplating their voters. Consider Toomey -- who spared a whopping 17 minutes for today's event but managed to spend a whole weekend with the billionaire Koch Brothers at their Palm Springs event.
I understand that Toomey wants to keep the promises he made in 2016 to the people who voted for him, such as repealing Obamacare in its current form. Toomey's gonna Toomey, but the current circumstances -- like a president who makes outrageous and seemingly false charges against his predecessor -- requires leaders who can think on their feet. Toomey can stay true to his deeply held conservative principles and still do so much better at listening to his deeply divided constituents.
But there's no way to force him to listen, or to do anything, really. In the heart-throbbing era of Twitter and 24/7 cable news (which becomes kind of a misnomer when CNN shows "The History of Comedy" for the 47th time, but I digress...), a six-year-term is an anachronism, a relic of the era when people hung out by the seashore and waited for masts of tall ships to appear on the horizon. In a perfect world, U.S. senators would come before voters every four years -- twice as long as your local House member, yet often enough they might do something crazy...like have a Philadelphia town hall. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world where there's not one but two World Cups between today and the day that Pat Toomey finally faces his voters.