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In our opinion: Hello, anyone home?

Back in the mid-19th century, President Ulysses S. Grant regularly walked to the Willard Hotel, a Washington, DC institution just a couple of blocks from the White House, perhaps to enjoy one of his favorite beverages. While there, seated comfortably in the hotel’s intimate lobby, citizens often approached him to express their views on national issues or solicit his help to resolve a vexing government problem. The practice was, many believe, the origin of the term “lobbyist.”

It’s unfortunate our elected Brunswick County Republican politicians haven’t followed Grant’s excellent example. To be sure, officeholders from Congressman David Rouzer on down are more than happy to associate with today’s version of lobbyists, who — without shame — line politicians’ pockets with “campaign contributions” in exchange for a favor down the road (money from corporate coffers given to politicians is a form of legal bribery we intend to discuss in a later post).

But when it comes to associating with common folks — who unlike fat-cat corporations actually vote — our representatives in high places are hardly to be seen.

  • Rouzer hasn’t attended a town hall since 2017. Instead, he meets with carefully selected constituents in his Washington office. Otherwise, he is not to be found in Brunswick County (sorry, Congressman, maintaining a district office in Bolivia doesn’t count).

  • State Rep. Frank Iler remains, as he usually is, unavailable for comment. He couldn't be bothered to update his website for years — as of last month he was urging voters to support him in the 2022 campaign.

  • Iler could have asked the MAGA GOP leaders in the General Assembly to post updated maps depicting his newly gerrymandered district — as well as those of Rep. Charlie Miller and State Senator Bill Rabon. Apparently, they can’t be bothered.

  • It seems County Commissioner Frank Williams has no wish to discuss issues with constituents not affiliated with his party. He told the StarNews he’s “not worried about losing votes to unaffiliated voters when he runs for reelection in November.”

  • Meanwhile, the all-Republican Brunswick County School Board recently approved the first of a two-phase project to upgrade surveillance equipment in county schools — without public review. Consideration of the $1.3 million project left us perplexed as to why there had been so little input from citizens until Brunswick County Democrats Shelley Allen and Dale Todd started voicing their concerns.

These so-called representatives of the people talk a good game. They insist they’re public servants, willing to do the bidding of their constituents. “Effectively meeting the needs of my constituents has been — and will always remain — a top priority,” intones Rouzer on his website.

It's clear what’s going on here, and it’s unforgivable. Unless you’re a cigar-chomping, well-heeled back-slapping corporate lobbyist (preferably Republican) with barrels of cash to hand out, our elected GOP representatives have no real interest in having anything to do with you.

President Grant would be deeply disappointed.


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