This is Amer­ica

Record Observer - - Opinion -

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.”

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