Republican Erik Paulsen, Minnesota’s most corrupt congressman, is about to teach you how to be a better human being.
He’s an inaugural member of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus, in which the blowhards, ankle-biters, and rabid vermin of America’s most depraved institution will hold themselves out as beacons of social etiquette.
Yes, it will get weird.
Members of the newly formed group plan to tour their districts to “promote the use of a respectful dialogue on tough issues.” This, according to Paulsen, will allow us to live in something akin to peace and togetherness. Or, in other words, not behave anything like Congress.
“No one party has a monopoly on good ideas,” Paulsen announced in the group’s press release. “And I believe this caucus will help foster an environment to cooperate, work together, and find common ground on solutions that help Minnesota and our country.”
Yet this may pose particular difficulties for one Erik Paulsen. He’s among the most partisan members of Congress, voting in near lockstep with the Trump administration. And a review of his record shows he rarely deviates from pushing his biggest donors’ interests.
This is not a man interested in communing with the little people. Last year, he raised almost $1 million. Only three percent came from those donating less than $200. He is, in short, the most congress-y congressman money can buy.
But his bigger problem will be touring his suburban Minneapolis district. Paulsen’s proven petrified of his own constituents.
It’s been six years since the congressman’s held a town hall meeting where anyone can show up and ask questions. Instead, he restricts himself to highly choreographed events where guests are limited and questions censored.
At the same time, his staff has built a noticeable reputation for hostility and deception, routinely yelling at visitors who try to record their interactions. Voters say staffers are often condescending and attempt to deceive callers about Paulsen’s votes.
Last fall, 50 senior citizens showed up at his Eden Prairie office to protest Republican plans to cut Medicaid and Social Security. When asked if Paulsen was hearing the concerns of the elderly, outreach coordinator Alex Stanford claimed the congressman had held “more than 100” town hall meetings.
He just couldn’t name one, said that no schedule was publicly available, and refused to explain how seniors might attend one in the future.
More recently, a staffer sprayed air freshener near a group of angry constituents to “get rid of the stink,” according to Anne Holt of Edina, who was among the group. Another staffer refused to shake their hands.
Given his own staff’s behavior, it’s doubtful Paulsen has much to teach the rest of us about civility or respect.
Even if he did, he’d need to summon the courage to meet face-to-face. After six years of searching for his testicles, it’s safe to say they’re permanently missing in action.
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