EDITORIAL: The artful dodger in the 10th

The Dispatch Editorial Board
U.S. representatives Lloyd Smucker and Scott Perry, right, listen to Vice President Mike Pence who spoke during an appearance at JLS Automation in Springettsbury Township Thursday, June 6, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

Anything to avoid your constituents, eh, Scott?

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, says he's holding a town hall Tuesday Hummelstown Fire Department.

But that might require the four-term Republican to face a hard question or two. 

Perry's solution for his latest accountability dodge is simple: Claim you're holding a town hall and then make it impossible for anyone not preemptively approved to attend.

In this instance, Perry's people are checking IDs at the door like he's spinning vinyl at some nightclub. Oh, and that's not all. Attendees must first register online, provide a zip code and then that information will be cross-checked with their ID at the door.

Surprise, surprise — there was a waiting list when the town hall was announced.

This isn't a town hall, where an elected official engages with his or her constituents. Perry's throwing himself a party, a cozy little gathering where hard questions are taboo and to whom the like-minded are catered.

More:IDs required to attend Rep. Perry's town hall

More:Rep. Perry opens district office, moving in with familiar GOP face

Perry's staff didn't provide many answers when asked why they thought this was a good idea, especially since their boss is especially notorious for avoiding his constituency like the plague. But Perry's congressional staff didn't concoct the scheme, either.

In 2017, then-Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, pulled a similar stunt by requiring ID checks at the door. Back then, Blum said it was to keep busloads of activists from hijacking his events. That was back when Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, dismissed opposition as paid shills bused in from some unnamed coastal city. Surely, they reasoned, no one from our districts could disagree with us.

That, of course, was flat out false, and a sure-fire way to dehumanize and offend one's constituency.

Blum lost in 2018.

And, even so, Perry's people believe Tuesday's sham will be taken seriously. They believe people won't notice that it's a farce. They've concluded that maintaining Perry's safe space is more important than engaging voters on the eve of what's probably going to be his most difficult re-election bid to date.

And, frankly, Perry should be downright offended. His staff doesn't believe he can hang in the face of hard questions.

Perhaps a constituent — whom Perry claims to represent — wants answers about congressional Republicans' interference campaign run for a certain inhabitant of the White House who also, it seems, happens to be an unindicted co-conspirator associated with a few election-related felonies. 

Perhaps a questioner hopes to engage Perry — an immigration hardliner — about the inhuman treatment of men, women and children at the southern border with Mexico.

Perhaps someone asks about Perry's lackluster legislative record.

These are the questions to which any serious elected official would stand, face and respond. But not Perry, whose plan is to call a town hall and then make admittance near-impossible for anyone without foreknowledge.

Perry and his staff hoped to fool casual onlookers. They hoped we'd all accept the marketing and move on. Instead, they've succeeded in once again showing Scott Perry will dodge accountability at all cost.