Rep. Eric Swalwell, who represents this area in Congress, held a town hall meeting in Dublin recently, and by all accounts it was a disruptive affair. This was more than the usual disagreement over issues, which is to be expected – even welcomed. We are after all a democracy. Citizens are encouraged to participate, speaking up for their points of view, sometimes with passion. In this case, however, a handful of raucous attendees did all they could to block the democratic process, imposing their views on other citizens by shouting and heckling in a manner more reminiscent of mob rule than of democracy.
Swalwell rose above the hecklers by treating them with courtesy when anger might have been understandable. His approach reminds us that democracy means everyone gets to participate, not just the raucous.
When the shouting is done and the hecklers have gone home, it is the daily efforts of openminded representatives who are our best hope for restoring civility and bipartisan resilience to our political process.