No town hall starts when everyone is seated. It really starts when you stand in line to get to your seat. That is how I ended up standing next to a woman calling 45 every name in the book, only to find out at the end of thirty minutes she was a Republican. My bad.
We keep hearing there are angry mobs of Democrats and that’s why our representatives don’t show up. This was no angry mob. Democrats were there, sure. But so were Republicans, self-described unaffiliated or independents, folks who had never paid attention to David Price before and those who had known him for thirty years. Millennials who knew their stuff, senior citizens who needed someone to explain inheritance tax or medicare worries, veterans of wars back to Vietnam, a mother of a student on campus during the Virginia Tech shooting, immigrants, IT geeks, teens and Boy Scouts. And everyone in between.
The mood throughout can be described as engaged, passionate, occasionally frustrated, grateful, and sometimes protesting in a single person’s shout of disagreement or rallying cry. I kept waiting for an angry mob to show up but only concerned citizens came rather than adversaries.
Introduced by Cary’s mayor, Congressman David Price, said democracy is alive and well but our political leaders will be tested and soon. We see the partisan nature of things but he also has good working relationships with Republicans. Due to the fact this was a congressionally sponsored town hall, he couldn’t get into political speech as much as he wanted. (Someone explain this to me).
Four hundred people showed up after the venue was changed from the original 150. These town halls are only growing in number and size. It was great to be in a space where people asked respectful questions and Price answered back. People on both sides were passionate or frustrated or seeking understanding and managed to cover a wide variety of topics.
People who never thought about the cost of health care as a whole until they lost their insurance, concern about “Obamacare” from everyone from veterans to IT geeks who feared fines would be levied for incorrect information on insurance. The new GOP care plan came out as people were sitting down so we didn’t get into what was there but lots of people talked as much about lives being saved as complained. A teenager worried about a friend with leukemia having a preexisting condition slammed on them in the future. Veterans spoke about the weaknesses and frustration of the system, especially wrenching when a female Desert Storm veteran, bald and wearing a medical mask, spoke about having cancer in the VA and how Obamacare, her words affects thing. Price’s belief was brought up by a questioner as Price had previously said “it all comes down to whether you consider affordable health care a human right.”
A number of questions about what the Democrats need to do to win. People in this line of questioning were more into making statements and suggestions than asking questions. Definitely frustration there. But there was an unaffiliated millennial who knew a lot about all sorts of issues who posed the big question, “how can we help?” Another millennial precinct chair challenged Congressman Price on some of his party line answers in this area. Price took him to task. The exchange had more of a “let me tell you son” attitude which I didn’t appreciate after all the young voters are who have been alienated. BUT the young man was respectful.
Everything from individual inheritance tax to the country’s current budget was asked about. Price came down in favor of people with over five million dollars paying and how people who more money should pay more taxes which didn’t go down well with one questioner, an independent.
Refugees/Displaced Persons and Immigrants
Cary and Morrisville have a large immigrant population so it was no surprise several got up to speak about how they are American too. Quite a few Muslims self-identified and thanked the Cary Mayor for holding one of the first Muslim festivals in the mid-2000s when no one else would.
A mother whose daughter was at Va Tech during the incident spoke as a member of Mom’s Demand action. Many of the questioners had written letters or spoken with the congressman before. The crowd seemed to be in favor of gun control or didn’t speak up about alternatives.
A teen asked if he has to worry about the draft in a few years. Lots of murmurs in the crowd.