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Feb 25

Sonoma County Town Hall Pulls in the People

Sonoma County Town Hall

This morning, we had a town hall on healthcare with Congressional Representative Mike Thompson and State Senator Mike McGuire. It was at the local high school, which is roughly a half mile away from me, so I walked down to it.

The first thing that struck me was that there were other people out walking and it was pretty clear they were on their way to the Town Hall as well. I had noticed when I left that two unfamiliar cars were parked in front of my house (I live is pretty rural area). It was only on getting to the high school that I realized they must have been people who went to the town hall. The very large Pine High School parking lot was packed.

As you can see in the photo above, it was standing room only. There are about 400 people in that photo, and that is about one-third of the gymnasium. So there were roughly a thousand people there. And note that it wasn’t constant: people came and people went. It wouldn’t surprise me if two thousand people took part in the whole thing.

It’s About Engagement

I wasn’t that interested in what the politicians had to say. And while I was there, they didn’t say much. Mostly, people spoke — generally with some eloquence. But there was anger and fear in the air.

There was also a sense of the ridiculousness of the whole thing: we have a system, it works, and now we stand to lose it just because the Republicans made political hay out of it over the last eight years? We know that despite everything, less than 20 percent of Americans want Obamacare repealed outright — at least not without Trump’s facile promise of some better and “great.”

I didn’t stick around long. I just wanted to get some pictures and see what the turn-out would look like. Crowds are not my thing (unless I am on a stage and they are watching me). And this is northern California. My Representative (Thompson) is a good deal more conservative than I would like. But there’s no question that he’s a solid, mainstream Democrat who votes as I want him to the vast majority of the time (given our limited options).

My take-away from the whole thing was that this is the kind of political engagement that is necessary if we are to survive. As Benjamin Franklin probably didn’t say, but should have, when (probably not) asked what form of government the USA would have, “A republic, if you can keep it.” If citizens don’t participate in a democracy (Okay Glenn Beck fans, Democratic Republic!), if they don’t vote, if they don’t communicate with their representatives, if they don’t pay attention to what’s going on — they lose everything.

Systemic Problems

Of course, as many of you know, over the last five years, I’ve come to believe that the problem is systemic: capitalism itself. It naturally leads to plutocracy. And that is what we effectively have. But we do still technically have a vaguely democratic system. (Consider that Wyoming with a population of 600,000 people — roughly the population of my county — has two Senators, as does California with a population 65 times greater.)

My point is that seeing people engaged in the political process is not just heartening; it is essential if we are to survive.

7 comments

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  1. James Fillmore

    I didn’t make it to mine (family emergency). But I will next time. I’m intrigued in seeing what one of these is like.

    And, like all such gatherings, even if the candidate is already mostly on your side, participants with a more social bent than myself get to meet others passionate about similar issues. This is never a bad thing.

  2. Elizabeth

    I am usually in class when mine happen so I haven’t made it to many things. But I do have the https://townhallproject.com/ and Democrats won the Delaware Senate district 10 so we are on our way to total Republican annihilation in 2018.

    How do we convince Cheeto to only pick appointees from congress so we can open all of the seats?

    1. James Fillmore

      That’s a great website. I’m glad people are coming up with stuff like that.

      I don’t know that we can convince Cheeto (or “Twitler” as someone said), but maybe we can convince more Congresspersons to apply for those spots. “You’re this close to power. Simply flatter the fragile ego, and a place in the Throne Room can be yours.”

      Hell, you know most of them are fantasizing about it already.

  3. Jurgan

    I was prepared to go to mine, and then I got a message saying it had been canceled. I don’t know why, but I imagine Mike Coffman chickened out at the last minute. He did sneak out the back door last time he held a constituent meeting.

    1. James Fillmore

      Good! It means his ass is spooked. Thanks and congrats to people in your district. Keep that pressure up!

      1. Jurgan

        I’m planning to go to his local office tomorrow and ask where he is. He says he’s not holding a meeting until April. I will definitely be recording what I get.

        1. James Fillmore

          Well done! That’s a terrific idea.

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