What a real town hall looks like
While Emily Lockwood, the other Emily on the web team, was listening to ranting protestors in Colorado yesterday, I headed to Maryland for what seems to be a rarity these days: a productive town hall meeting.
Rep. Donna Edwards hosted a town hall meeting on health care reform in a packed library in Oxon, Maryland, and I went braced for at least a few protestors and maybe a heckler or two. I expected the left-leaning district to be more supportive than the crowds many members of Congress are facing during recess, but I didn’t think the event would be smooth sailing. Luckily, I was in for a treat.
Edwards, who has quickly become a leading progressive voice in Congress after winning a special election in 2008, started the event by asking attendees to respect other points of view, a request many members of Congress are making across the country. Fortunately, that’s exactly what folks in Edwards’ district did.
The people at the town hall meeting weren’t without strong differences in opinion. Whether upset with their current health care plans, eager to support the House’s bill, or strongly against aspects of proposed legislation, these constituents were passionate about their beliefs. But that didn’t lead to personal attacks, mob mentality, or, thankfully, violence.
Unlike some of her colleagues who have had to yell over protestors or even cancel meetings, Edwards was able to answer questions about the plan’s costs and its affects on people’s current health care plans. I certainly learned more about the legislation from the session and, whether they supported the plan or not, I believe other folks did, too. I was part of a serious, thoughtful discussion about what’s going on in Congress today.
And, unfortunately, there aren’t too many people right now who can say the same.