Some enterprising reporters have moved on, as New Hampshire's Dean Barker observes
, from asking why Hillary Clinton isn't talking to political reporters to asking why she isn't talking to "regular people." The Boston Globe
's Annie Linskey, for instance, quotes
a liberal radio host, the chairman of a county Democratic Party, and a political science professor to make the point that Clinton hasn't yet held a campaign event open to all comers in New Hampshire. In short, so far this cycle she hasn't participated in the theater of the town hall meeting
, of which the Globe
's James Pindell wrote:
... for the most part, from now until when voters pay attention this fall, these events are dominated by special interest groups that want to be part of the presidential primary show.
These days, it’s not uncommon for people to get paid to follow candidates around the state, repeating the same questions at each stop — sometimes accounting for as many as half of the inquiries.
Linskey's take is that Clinton isn't making herself available to hear from voters ... but already in this campaign, Clinton has decided to focus on heroin addiction
after voters in New Hampshire and Iowa told her it was a problem needing more attention. She's had a serious, fruitful discussion
of immigration with activists. All the signs are that she's listening and responding—yes, often to people chosen for their interest in specific areas, but is talking to people with personal experience and longtime focus on specific, important topics necessarily less valuable than answering any and every question that comes her way now, first, right away? Even if the person asking it is being paid to do so at five political events a day?
Why is that more real and valuable than, say, the childcare workers Clinton met with at a roundtable this week? That gave her the opportunity to hear stories like that of Patricia Bailey, a Washington state daycare provider and SEIU member who makes less than her state's minimum wage by the time she's done covering expenses and offering discounts to families that can't afford to pay for child care; you can see video of Bailey below the fold.
Women working long hours for low wages are unlikely to be able to attend however many big-audience events it would take to be called on to ask a candidate a question, and those who don't live in early primary states don't even have the chance. But these women's stories are important for a candidate to hear—especially a candidate focused, as Clinton has promised to be, on things like paid family leave—and we shouldn't dismiss them because it's their union that got them into an event where Clinton would have time to listen and talk to them. Creating worker strength through numbers is what unions are for, and if that's what it takes to make a presidential candidate listen, it's not less real or important than the concerns of people who live in New Hampshire and Iowa and have the leisure time to attend open-to-the-general-public events held during working hours.