Walden Town Hall

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden talks about breaking with President Donald Trump on his declaration of a national emergency during a March town hall meeting in Hermiston.

Democracy can sometimes be a messy — or contentious — business.

A good example was Rep. Greg Walden’s town hall session in Athena Sunday.

Eastern Oregon is traditionally a friendly place for the Hood River federal lawmaker. But on Sunday, Walden faced some tough questions regarding the immigration crisis and the climate.

That’s how it should be.

We don’t support town hall meetings becoming shouting matches and, thankfully, that didn’t happen Sunday. We do, however, believe town hall meetings are essential for our democracy.

Not only do they allow voters to hear what their elected representatives are doing — or, in some cases, not doing — in Washington, D.C., but such gatherings allow voters to ask questions and seek answers.

Walden faced pointed questions — especially about the ongoing immigration and border crisis — and delivered his answers.

On the border issue, Walden stuck to his familiar mantra that America must have secure borders, while he said he didn’t support the Green New Deal concept.

Those two issues generated some vigorous debate and that is a good thing.

Walden — and other members of the Oregon federal delegation — deserve kudos for sponsoring such town halls across the region. Sure, it isn’t easy to face tough questions from voters. However, that is part of the job and Walden and his elected colleagues seem to understand that.

Yet those who took the time — on a Sunday no less — also should be lauded.

Democracy can be messy but it does not work unless people participate. Our system of government demands that lawmakers and voters interact with each other on a regular basis. Sometimes that isn’t easy but it is essential.

Walden also brought up a good point — when answering a question about lack of bipartisanship — that lawmakers on both sides of the political fence typically cooperate to get things done.

Often that interesting fact gets lost in the daily, weekly and monthly white noise of the political atmosphere in Washington, D.C.

We all tend to focus on what isn’t working — rather than legislative success — because that grabs headlines and good sound bites.

Walden and his colleagues could just as easily shed the town hall concept and choose to communicate with voters in a different manner — like Twitter. That they don’t is a good sign that despite everything, our elected leaders not only want input but actively seek feedback from voters.

That’s a good sign our democracy isn’t in as dire straits as it is often portrayed.

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