I submitted the following as a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. Chances are it will not be published, so I share it below.
What should Jason Chaffetz take away from Thursday night’s rowdy town hall meeting?
So far, Chaffetz has borrowed from Donald Trump’s playbook by claiming the participants were from out of state. Thus the anger isn’t “real”, an insult to his constituents. While maybe not everyone there was from his congressional district (but still at least Utahns), he writes off Thursday night at his own risk.
While Chaffetz district may still lean Republican, that does not hold for every congressional district. Representatives in more competitive districts, such as Mia Love, should take note of the anger. It’s likely the sentiment Chaffetz saw isn’t isolated. Indeed, that very night, other Republican town halls nationwide saw similar episodes.
The Supreme Court will be hearing a case on partisan gerrymandering this year, one giving Justice Kennedy the measure of “unfairness” he asked for. Depending on the ruling, this could make congressional districts nationally more competitive, and thus more likely to be captured by angry Democrats. As a leading Republican in the House, Chaffetz cannot ignore this.
Thursday night could be the canary in the coal mine for not only Chaffetz but Republicans nationally. If Chaffetz is not careful, the cave in could suffocate him.
Watch the meeting in its entirety below.