Five General Tips for Crafting Town Hall Questions
- Keep your eye on the prize. Your job isn’t to convince your MoC—it’s to make him or her give you an answer or make clear to all watching that they refuse.
- Be a storyteller. Incorporate your own personal story in your question. Keep in mind your audience is as much your neighbors and fellow town hall attendees as it is the MoC. Be honest, be vulnerable, and tell stories that matter.
- Make a concrete, verifiable ask. The best asks are clear, actionable for the MoC, and easy to verify, whether they followed through or not. If you ask any MoC “Will you fight for me?” Every single one of them will say “Yes!” and then go about their day. If you ask them, “Will you commit to voting against X upcoming bill?” they may answer directly or they may prevaricate, but regardless they will adjust their decision-making calculus.
- Don’t settle for talking points. MoCs love to fall back on a set of canned responses to your REAL questions. Don’t let them. Force them to engage with your humanity.
- Know your strengths. Just want to show up to the town hall, but don’t want to ask a question? That’s OK! Showing up is doing your part—you’re supporting everyone else in the room. Be honest about your strengths and limitations because that will make the work stronger.
DEFENDING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA)
The week of July 23, the Senate voted on three different TrumpCare bills, each of which was defeated. But that doesn’t mean that Republicans aren’t still trying to cobble together another version of TrumpCare—and Republicans in the House are eager to pass whatever the Senate passes. In fact, anticipating that the Senate would pass “Skinny Repeal,” Speaker Paul Ryan had given himself same-day authority to pass the Senate bill.
With all the action in the Senate in the last few weeks, your Representatives need to be reminded that you still oppose TrumpCare. Here are some sample town hall questions to get you started.
- Every single version of TrumpCare would be terrible for Americans. Coverage losses would range from 16 million to 32 million. I’m glad that the bills the Senate considered were defeated, but I’m afraid Mitch McConnell will find some way of ramming a new bill through...
- ...Will you commit to me, one of your constituents, that you will oppose any bill that the Senate passes if it would result in coverage losses or a reduction in benefits?
- ...Will you commit to me, one of your constituents, that you will oppose any bill that the Senate passes if it would make any cuts to the Medicaid program?
- ...Will you commit to me, one of your constituents, that you will oppose any bill that the Senate passes if it hasn’t gone through regular order, meaning with hearings and expert testimony?
- I don’t believe that ensuring “access” to health care, which doesn’t take into account affordability or quality of care, is good enough. Can you guarantee that any replacement plan that either the House or Senate produces will cover AT LEAST as many people that would be covered under the ACA? Can you guarantee that no one will lose their coverage as a result of your vote?
- I [or someone I know] has “x” condition and I’m afraid that I [they] will be unable to obtain affordable health coverage because of my [their] pre-existing condition. TrumpCare, including “Skinny Repeal,” would have eliminated the protection for persons with pre-existing conditions. I want to know if you can assure me that I’ll be able to get the same consumer protections as the ACA, including for a pre-existing condition? Will you vote no for any bill that doesn’t keep this protection?
- [For Democrats] I’m afraid that Republicans will try to force Democrats to negotiate on coverage and benefits in a replacement plan. Can you promise me that you won’t compromise on coverage and benefits for anyone currently eligible for the ACA?