Time for Rep. Blum to face the public

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We are glad to see U.S. Rep. Rod Blum has scheduled an appearance in Cedar Rapids next week. We’d be even happier if he made time for a fully public town hall.

Blum, a Republican representing Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, will speak before a local grass roots conservative group on the evening of April 12. The event is one of the Iowa Conservative Union’s monthly “open carry” offerings at Godfather’s Pizza in the Town and Country Shopping Center.

While these events are typically open to the public, increased interest prompted organizers to announce an “extreme vetting” process for the Blum visit. According to an update on the event’s Facebook page, those hoping to attend must submit their name, phone number and mailing address to an ICU email account. The organization will issue confirmations to those approved, and no one without a confirmation will be allowed into the event.

The ICU, just like other private organizations, can run its events as inclusively or exclusively as it likes. Likewise, there’s no reason for the organization to lay down its firearms because some 1st District residents have concerns about attending this historically “open carry” event.

But we do take issue with Blum’s long-standing affinity for these types of semipublic events, and his refusal to follow in the footsteps of Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst by holding public town halls.

As interest in the ICU event proves, 1st District constituents want an opportunity to speak face-to-face with their congressman. The two-week Congressional recess beginning April 10 appears to offer ample opportunity for Blum to make good on his February promise of “in-person” and “big and beautiful” public events. Yet a scan of the schedule on Blum’s official website shows none.

There’s no denying that since health care debates erupted in 2009 public appearances have become more confrontational. There is a risk of mayhem, and viral videos from mobile phones. Shame on Iowans of all political stripes who have succumbed to lowbrow tactics like shouted insults or obscenities.

But as appearances by Grassley and Ernst have already shown, there is just as much opportunity to explain positions, offer insights and show leadership.

The campaign is over, Rep. Blum. It is time to make time for all your constituents.

• Comments: editorial@thegazette.com; (319) 398-8469

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