How many times have you heard that citizens are apathetic, that they don’t care, that they are stupid, lazy and just not interested in their society?
All the time.
But what happens when citizens get off the couch, become engaged, and take the first baby step — say petitioning their member of Congress for a meeting?
They are kicked to the curb.
Take the case of 400 constituents of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia).
Those 400 citizens signed a petition calling on Capito to meet with them, in the district, during the August Congressional recess, to discuss raising the federal minimum wage, from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.50 an hour.
“Thirty million hard-pressed American workers are making less per hour today than workers made in 1968 – 45 years ago – adjusted for inflation,” the petition read.
“Adjusted for inflation since 1968, the federal minimum wage, now stagnant at $7.25 per hour, would be $10.67 per hour.”
“We the undersigned call on Congresswoman Capito to meet with us at a town meeting, during the August recess, at a convenient, public space to discuss the legislative necessity of a $10.50 federal minimum wage for the working poor of our country who produce, serve and care for us each day.”
“We look forward to an expeditious acceptance with time and place as soon as possible so as to prepare for a thorough dialogue with you.”
On July 9, Adam Tomlinson, Capito’s legislative director, sends an e-mail saying that “Mrs. Capito has received the your petition and is reviewing it.”
On July 15, Capito sends a letter, in which she lays out her history of voting when it comes to raising the minimum wage — she voted for the raise in 2007 to the current $7.25 an hour — but she ignores the call for a meeting.
She doesn’t say no, she doesn’t say yes, she just ignores it.
Almost one month now since the petition was delivered to her office, and still no answer from Capito about the meeting.
Capito has time to meet in the district with corporate trade groups — as she did earlier this month with the West Virginia Forestry Association.
Capito has time to appear before the International Trade Commission — as she did earlier this week — on behalf of a corporation — Felman Productions — to argue that anti-dumping regulations ought to be renewed.
But she doesn’t have the time to answer a petition for a meeting with her fellow citizens to discuss raising the minimum wage?
No apathy here.
Just contempt from Congresswoman Capito.