This is America
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris held a town hall meeting Friday night at Chesapeake College, drawing hundreds of local residents to the Todd Performing Arts Center.
Harris is a Republican in his fourth term representing Maryland’s 1st District (which includes the entire Eastern Shore) in the House of Representatives.
Harris began Friday night’s meeting in typical fashion, with a slide presentation about the federal deficit. But the booing and shouting soon began, as a large segment of the audience pressed for the question-andanswer period to begin.
Health care, the environment, education and policies of President Donald Trump’s administration were among the major topics, with Harris saying the federal government should send much of the responsibility for various issues back to the states.
On health care, questions ranged from why Harris supported the Republican Party proposal to defund Planned Parenthood to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
People from the crowd shouted “single-payer” every time a question about the Affordable Care Act repeal and the Republican alternative was brought up.
On the environment, the crowd cheered for Harris when he said he supported fully funding the Chesapeake Bay Program at $73 million and spending it in a way that helps farmers reduce pollution, rather than environmental overregulation.
Talbot Rising member Michael Pullen said both Harris’ answers and the crowd’s reaction was expected, “because people are upset with the policies that Congressman Harris has sponsored and continues to sponsor.”
“There is a movement afoot. I think it’s a grassroots movement of people that are becoming engaged and becoming active and are expressing their concerns, and it’s a good thing,” Pullen said. “This is democracy and the people are the source of the power, and I think we’re getting to the point where people recognize that power is there and they’re waking up to it.”
Harris supporter Frank Mirabile called the booing crowd rude and disrespectful.
“They wouldn’t allow him to talk, and every time he tried to give some sort of logical answer with data behind it, they went off in their little ‘Indivisible’ rants when it was all emotional-bound, instead of listening to the fact,” Mirabile said.
After the meeting, Harris said the crowd embodied American democracy.
“These are folks from the district, they’re interested, they want to participate in democracy, and that’s what we saw tonight. We saw that you can agree to disagree. It’s nonviolent. People came out and expressed their frustrations. That’s part of the American system,” Harris said.
“I celebrate that. Is it comfortable doing that? Would I rather that I had a cheering crowd? Yeah, but this is America. This is what we get. This is not Russia, this is America,” he said.
Whether you agree or disagree with Harris on the issues, you should appreciate his response concerning Friday night’s meeting. Democracy is messy. It’s noisy. It’s hard. But, as Winston Churchill said, “Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”