Inquirer Editorial: Toomey seems missing in action to many of his constituents

Sen. Pat Toomey AP file photo

TuesdayswithToomey protests show no sign of exhaustion, though that would likely please Sen. Pat Toomey, who birthed the movement by seeming to ignore frustrated constituents who think he is a rubber stamp for the Trump administration.

Toomey provided more reason for concern this week with his response to the forced resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn. He seemed more concerned that the media found out Flynn lied about contacts with Russian officials than that the contacts occurred.

It's as if Toomey has forgotten that his reelection wasn't automatic in a purple state that also elected three Democrats in the only other statewide races in November. Pennsylvania is neither red, nor blue, which means the senator can't choose colors in listening to constituents.

For starters, he needs to pay more attention to Philadelphia, where he apparently hasn't held a single town hall meeting even though it is Pennsylvania's most populous city. Maybe that's because Toomey doesn't get many votes in the Democratic stronghold. But closer attention to its voters is a good way to change that.

Toomey should give Mayor Kenney a call and see if they can figure out how to handle Trump's executive order that threatens to withhold federal funds from "sanctuary cities" like Philadelphia. Kenney has been resolute in requiring a warrant before handing over illegal immigrants accused of crimes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Toomey could learn a lot more about all the people he serves, in Philadelphia and elsewhere, if he made himself more available. Clearly, they want to talk to him. For weeks, his seven offices around the state have been deluged with phone calls and faxes. His staff has been working overtime to respond to people, but a spokeswoman accused left-wing groups of stirring the pot.

It's true that Indivisible, a grassroots advocacy group that includes former congressional staffers, has been helpful. Its website includes a downloadable pamphlet called A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda. But that technical assistance isn't what motivates TuesdayswithToomey participants to express their concerns about affordable health care, immigration, and other issues.

If Toomey would become more accessible when constituents want to see him, he might learn why they think he is out of touch, why they think he doesn't understand their fear of losing their medical coverage, their jobs, their homes. It's all about communication. And of late, Toomey hasn't done too well with that. That failure smacks of arrogance to some people. So long as they think Toomey doesn't care about them, TuesdayswithToomey events will likely continue.