By televising high-level congressional meetings on key issues, as President Trump did yesterday at the White House amongst a bipartisan group of lawmakers on school safety, the American people are witnessing firsthand how legislation is formed; the proverbial "sausage making" of lawmaking.
A smart move by the president on a number of levels. The first being that the American people crave transparency in our government. Voters want to know what our lawmakers are doing and saying, and whether or not they deserve re-election — especially with the midterm elections approaching. Congressional meetings broadcast live, right into America's living rooms, get politicians on the record so voters can see where they stand on issues when it counts. On gun control, for example, did they cave under pressure and not support the promises they made on the campaign trail? Are they towing the line for special interests or standing firm and doing what's best for their constituents?
Transparency in high stakes meetings on topics of great national interest places a spotlight on politicians and increases accountability — something sorely missing in Washington.
Secondly, live-streamed congressional and cabinet meetings will eliminate damaging leaks that have plagued the current administration. Anti-Trump forces can't leak information to media when the American people have already witnessed firsthand what was said at these previously closed-door meetings. Nor can the slanted media — with their disproportionately negative coverage of the president — fabricate fake news stories or push a skewered political narrative when voters see for themselves what transpired.
Like with his use of Twitter, Trump is weakening the traditional gatekeepers of news — the media — by bringing his raw and unfiltered message and political agenda directly to the American people.
If Trump keeps this up, leaks and fake news will become a footnote, not a headline.
But that's not the only upside of televised cabinet and congressional meetings. The president is showing voters that despite what unethical media tells us, he isn't an autocrat. Far from it. Trump is both open-minded and bipartisan, as evidenced yesterday at the White House when he gathered liberal and conservative lawmakers for a listening session giving both sides a seat at the table in the gun reform debate to hash out school safety. What Americans witnessed was Trump supporting gun control positions strongly favored by Democrats, the opposition party, more favorably than his own. Thus, dispelling any ludicrous notion pushed by fake news media about the billionaire businessman being a "dictator."
Americans know that dictators like we see in North Korea don't value a diversity of political opinions or build consensus. They rule with a heavy fist from the top down.
The president is showing voters he's a man of action. After the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, killing 17, Trump has demonstrated leadership by quickly taking bold steps to enact real gun reform, pledging to ban bump stocks and lending serious consideration to raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21, to strengthening background checks and to enacting other measures to keep schoolchildren safe.
If realty TV-style congressional meetings are what it takes, so be it.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.