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Megan McArdle

The Shouters Win Town Hall Battles But Lose the War

Sure, you're raising awareness. Afterward the public will dislike you and your message.
Asking a lawmaker questions at a town hall doesn't feel that empowering. Shouting at one might.

Asking a lawmaker questions at a town hall doesn't feel that empowering. Shouting at one might.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I spent part of last week following a congressman around the sun-baked precincts of West Texas. I watched Will Hurd meet with constituents, deliver his stump speech, and wax lyrical about the Dairy Queen Blizzard.

I listened to voters tell me how much they admired Hurd, a moderate Republican in the only competitive district in Texas. I also watched the folks who don’t admire Hurd stand up and heckle to interrupt his stump speech. I wondered: “Why are you doing this?”