Alabama Republican Congressmen take note… your colleague from AL-06, Gary Palmer, just proved that you’re a bunch of cowards. In a sometimes contentious, but overall respectful, Q&A session in Hoover this morning, Palmer was neither pelted nor provoked. He didn’t have to flee the room in terror, and even felt safe enough to go out and chat with the overflow crowd that couldn’t into the 200-person capacity hall.
The crowd began lining up at 3am and wrapped all the way around the block at the Hoover City Hall by mid morning. Yes, you read that right. They stood for hours in the chilly, pre-dawn morning waiting for a 9am meeting. All in order to meet their Congressman and express their concerns.
This really is what democracy looks like.
We hoped to have video clips to share, but private citizens were barred from taking photos or recording the town hall. The news media with cameras did live stream it and you can watch it here.
Rep. Palmer kicked off the morning by assuring the crowd that he got elected to Congress before Trump took office. It was a nice sidestep from the increasingly toxic atmosphere in the White House. Now, if his voting record would only reflect his distance….
And yet, Palmer also showed that he still doesn’t quite “get it” when one speaker rose and assured Palmer that she “wasn’t paid to be here.” Palmer quipped back: “Neither am I!”
oops…. the crowd took issue with that one. “YES YOU ARE!” they reminded their Congressman.
Issues discussed included:
- Palmer expressed support for defunding Planned Parenthood.
- Palmer took issue with any plan to deport 11 million people, calling it a “blow to the economy” and humanitarian disaster.
- According to an Indivisible Birmingham tweet, Palmer said he didn’t realize that a bill HE VOTED FOR removed restrictions barring some mentally ill people from buying guns.
- He tried to cheerlead for health savings accounts, but the crowd was having none of it, and several people shared their health care stories, begging Palmer not to repeal the ACA.
After the meeting, he greeted the overflow crowd outside and promised to hold another meeting in a larger venue. We’ll watch for the notice & help get the word out!
Palmer’s positions on issues like climate change, choice, and public education funding are familiar to people in his district. But it was still very important. It’s too easy to luxuriate in the comfort of supporters with private invitation-only meetings where they don’t get challenged. That leads to groupthink and tunnel vision.
The public town hall format gives representatives access to differing viewpoints – replete with personal stories about how policy affects real people. They also show constituents with similar concerns that they aren’t alone; the problem they think is “personal” is actually a public policy problem with a political solution.
Kudos to Congressman Palmer. He did the absolute minimum any Representative should do: hold a public meeting and listen. But at least he did it.
Alabama Republicans take note…. he survived, and you will too.