As people flood town halls during the Congressional recess to register their outrage over President Donald Trump's right-wing agenda, many members of Congress are apparently attempting to duck the public outcry by refusing to hold any town halls at all.
And so constituents are taking matters into their own hands, and publicizing representatives' refusal to meet with them by holding "mock" town halls with cardboard cut-outs of their missing representatives.
Indivisible Idaho, for example, wrote on Twitter that the group "didn't have our MoC [member of Congress] so we brought our own":
— Indivisible Idaho (@IndivisibleID) February 21, 2017
Another such town hall targeted Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. "[T]he Republican congressman was invited, and, if he had showed up, it would have been a real [t]own [h]all," observed local political pundit Jonathan Tilove in the Austin American-Statesman. "But he didn't and it was thus a mock town hall in which he was represented by a handsome cardboard cutout of his likeness."
The mock town halls are taken seriously and conducted as if they were real ones, with constituents lining up at a microphone to address questions and concerns to the cardboard representatives:
Terry Adcock to cardboard Roger Williams:"You will take my Medicare when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." pic.twitter.com/oTHb0wuzxp
— jonathantilove (@JTiloveTX) February 19, 2017
Alternative town halls are scheduled for Tuesday as well, and some are expected to be contentious. Indivisible Tennessee, for example, is planning an "Alternative Rally for Marsha Blackburn," to be held outside of Rep. Marsha Blackburn's (R-Tenn.) town hall—an event limited to only 100 people—in Fairview, Tenn.
An organizer told a local television station, "I have set this up to give anyone and everyone a chance to have their voice heard. We have a cardboard cutout of Marsha that we're calling the alternative Marsha Blackburn so they'll be directing their questions to that picture."
Similar mock town halls are happening throughout Texas, whose Republican members of Congress appear particularly unwilling to face their constituents, as well as across the country for the rest of the week.
Indeed, voters across the country are extremely eager to meet with members of Congress: more than 46,000 people joined a call on Sunday night to find out how to get their representatives to pay attention to their concerns.
And people have also invented other creative methods to draw attention to their Congressperson's refusal to hold town halls.
For example, voters in Michigan's 11th district can refer to the website Where is David Trott? to track Rep. David Trott's (R-Mich.) whereabouts (he is spending the Congressional recess in India, according to the site). Voters can also check in on a ticking clock that as of Tuesday shows Trott hasn't held a town hall for a whopping 683 days.
In Illinois, the group Fox Valley Indivisible is distributing "Missing" flyers for Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) that direct people to call his offices to demand a town hall:
— IndivisibleFoxValley (@IndivisibleFV) February 21, 2017
And Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) is being called out for avoiding constituents with "missing" photos pasted to milk containers in at least one supermarket:
— Alan (@GammaCounter) February 21, 2017
Representatives who have arranged for town halls are also still encountering packed rooms, protests, and general outrage.
Find a town hall or other event near you here, here, and here, as well as tips for reaching a missing member of Congress here. People are posting about efforts to reach their representatives during the recess under the hashtag #ReclaimRecess: