In his 1943 painting "Freedom of Speech,"
Norman Rockwell illustrated American democracy in action by depicting a
man speaking up at a town meeting. A framed poster of Rockwell's painting
hangs proudly on a wall in my Senate office in Burlington, Vt.
Since 1990, when I was first elected to Congress, I have held hundreds of
town meetings in almost every community in Vermont. Just this past Sunday
I held a town meeting in Middlebury, Vt., with a video connection to
meetings in three other towns. At these town meetings I listen to what my
constituents have to say, answer questions and give a rundown of what I'm
working on and what's going on in Washington.
This process -- an elected official meeting with ordinary citizens -- is
Ironically, at the same time as I was holding town meetings in Vermont, a
handful of prospective 2016 Republican presidential candidates (Jeb Bush,
John Kasich, Chris Christie and Scott Walker) trekked to Las Vegas to
audition for the support of Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino
tycoon who spent at least $93 million underwriting conservative
candidates in the last election cycle. Those candidates were in Las Vegas
for the sole purpose of attempting to win hundreds of millions from him
for their presidential campaigns.