It turns out Michele Bachmann isn’t the only terrified lawmaker hiding from her constituency behind a wall of phone-dialing robots. Politicians across this great land of ours have discovered the beauty of the tele-town hall, which allows them to pretend to interact with voters while sparing them the pain of actually talking with them.
Basically, a service will randomly dial a few thousand voters at a time and ask them to stay on the line to speak with their local political hack. Most people who pick up the phone will wisely put it back down again. But a few lonely senior citizens, unemployed people, and Art Bell-worshiping cranks will stay on the line.
Some people do get to ask a question but most don’t, and are doomed to forever linger on silent mode while some nutter proposes that “we kill the commies.” (This actually happened in a tele-town hall led by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany.) This opportunity for “freewheeling discussion” is why advocates call it “a Utopian microcosm of democracy” and why most people won’t answer the phone when it rings during American Idol.
Lawmakers flock to tele-town halls [Politico]