It has been difficult for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s constituents, like myself, to be heard by him, whether the attempted contact was by calls to his office, emails or letters. He chose to use his congressional recess to only meet with his supporters and not hold events open to the general public.
A few constituents got tickets for the Feb. 21 dinner, while 1,000 people gathered outside in protest of McConnell refusing to hear the voices of everyone he is supposed to represent, whether they voted for him or not.
It concerns me not only that McConnell seems inclined to host events that keep him insulated within a bubble primarily of supporters. During his talk in Lawrenceburg, he even called the gathered protesters “those other people.”
“Those other people” are his constituents too. “Those other people” are concerned he seems so set on passing legislation that is not in the best interest of the people and that he will not listen to them because they don’t agree with him.
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By calling them “those other people” he is not only dismissing them and their concerns; he is marginalizing them. I suppose it is easier to dismiss legitimate concerns by people you are supposed to listen to and represent when you paint them as a faction who is only against you.
We are not against him. We are against the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act with no viable plan in place to replace it. The majority of Kentuckians weren’t insured before the health care law.
While McConnell may see the law’s mandate to have coverage or pay fines as too much government interference, it is one of the most valuable parts of the plan. It is the best way to ensure insurance carriers will have a pool of both healthy people and people with pre-existing conditions. Thee healthy people are helping those who rely most heavily on the insurance. We all might find ourselves in dire straits health-wise.
Why would McConnell want to repeal an act that, even if isn’t perfect, has done more to help people and is keeping people alive who would have died otherwise? How can he ignore these very real concerns of constituents just to press forward with an agenda his party holds when it seems to be so contrary to doing what is best for the people? How can he press forward with removing environmental protections when that affects people’s health?
These are not partisan concerns. These are about real impacts on people’s lives. Our gatherings at his events and attempts to communicate with him are not attacks. When I hear McConnell say “those other people” or hear others like Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz call us “paid protesters” or even worse, it undermines and detracts from our message: that we are not being heard and our interests are not heeded.
We have a right to ask questions, and have them answered. That they are pointed or critical is due to frustration at not being heard. It is not an attack and it is not violence. We are his constituents. We don’t have to have voted for him to be heard. It is part of his job to represent us all, and that begins by listening to our concerns.
Sarah E. Troxell is a University of Kentucky graduate who writes for horse-racing publications.