Wheatland Township Democrats - News & Issues

Congressional town halls: Old-fashioned and inefficient or vital to the fabric of democracy?

“On the one hand if you’re a challenger and you don’t have much notoriety, you want to get as much earned media as you can to gain name recognition,” said Scot Schraufnagel, chair of the political science department at Northern Illinois University. So town halls, debates and other public forums become an important strategy for challengers to use.

Town hall meetings pre-date the country’s founding, and there is a long history of elected officials meeting their constituents in town hall formats, Schraufnagel said.

And while some argue town hall meetings and public forums are a crucial component of democracy, the events can also be used to gain recognition.An incumbent who is not facing a strong challenger will likely be less inclined to engage in debates, public forums and town halls because he or she already has name recognition, Schraufnagel said.

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