Dems Hope George Washington Can Tame Town Halls

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2009 2:25 PM CDT
President Barack Obama speaks about health care reform during a town hall meeting in Belgrade, Mont..   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Democrats are taking some unconventional steps to keep town halls civil, the Hill reports. Rep. Betsy Markey plans to hand out copies of George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior to attendees, in a nod to their patriotic zeal. The first rule? “Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.” Markey parses it thusly: “Respect one another. Don’t yell at people.”

Other approaches tried by some include staging marathon meetings that go on as long as it takes to let everyone speak. And a conference call among party strategists last week yielded suggestions such as opening with a prayer from a preacher or having Boy Scouts recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Still, some activists say they aren’t trying to be uncivil—they just want answers. “The problem is that they're not answering the questions that people are asking,” says the president of the Tea Party Patriots.