Friday, June 13, 2008

town hall meeting

what exactly does the phrase "town hall meeting" mean? i had foolishly assumed that they referred to events that were at least somewhat open to the local general public (you know, people from "town"). then earlier this week i heard that john mccain had a "town hall meeting" right here in philadelphia. i only heard about it after-the-fact and i thunked, "why didn't i hear about that event? maybe i could have dropped by."

i guess it was foolish of me to think that anyone could just drop by these town meetings, even someone from the actual town (okay, suburbs. but i pay the philly wage tax dammit!). because now it's pretty clear that "town hall meetings" aren't open to regular townspeople, but rather they are the type of invitation-only pre-screened supporters you would expect in any other heavily choreographed political non-event.

so why call them "town hall meetings" at all? why give campaigns the benefit of implying that their made-for-media production is a place where regular folks can drop by and chat with the candidate? is there any difference between a "town hall meeting" and an invitation-only fundraiser other than the fact that no one is openly passing around the hat?