“Hide-and-speak” (a pun on “hide-and-seek”) is when a government official speaks to his or her constituents without a live and personal confrontation, such as what happens at a town hall meeting. “Hide-and-speak” can be performed by running the interactions on the Internet.
There are several advantages in “hide-and-speak” for the government official: less risk of a physical confrontation (including a possible assassination), less risk of an embarrassing moment being recorded and put on YouTube, more chance of a knowledgeable staff member providing a proper answer to avoid a gaffe, and so on. The term was popularized by a widely linked April 2012 article in the National Journal, “Hide and Speak: Taking the Place Of Town Halls?” by Billy House.
Hide and Speak: Taking the Place Of Town Halls?
By Billy House
Updated: April 28, 2012 | 10:27 a.m.
April 26, 2012 | 9:57 p.m.
Next week’s congressional recess is formally called a “constituent work week” by the House. That name implies the traditional recess activity of hosting town-hall meetings and fielding questions from constituents.
But now, more and more lawmakers are ditching face-to-face meetings in favor of “virtual” ones held over the telephone or Internet. Whether this is an achievement for participatory democracy or a way for lawmakers to avoid potentially unpleasant interaction with angry voters is debatable.
“Let’s just say I know of a number of members who eagerly avoid real town halls and substitute them with tele-town halls,” offered Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who says he holds about 30 live events annually. He also does some gatherings by phone.
There are varied reasons for this political hide-and-speak—and some go well beyond the security concerns that peaked early last year when a man shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and massacred attendees of her public event in Tucson.
Sharp partisan divides and low congressional approval ratings make some members wary of constituents who eagerly await public sessions to give them the business—whether that be protests, shouts, or simple, tough, cross-examination. By holding impersonal events, members can make automated calls to invite participants. They can also reach more people by allowing the citizenry to participate through 800- numbers accessible to anyone.
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Saturday, April 28, 2012 • Permalink