So Senator Ayotte held town hall meetings throughout NH today. I’ve heard her speak before and she has a way of making the unreasonable sound reasonable and ridiculous lies sound plausible. This makes for a gifted politician and a terrible leader/legislator. Normally this type of event would be an echo chamber for her point of view. No reason to participate in a highly controlled scripted event filled with “tea partiers” and other crazies. This far in front of an election, we tend to keep our powder dry and hope they are lulled into complacency so we can replace her in 4 years.
This time was different. Her vote against background checks was unthinkable. Some of my friends made signs and others sent out e-mails to come out to this event. Lots of conflicts at this time of year and we actually had a gorgeous day. By my count the audience ended up being about 40% us and 60% them. Amazing, really in central NH on a Tuesday evening without an immediate election.
The event itself was, predictably, very controlled with Ms Ayotte describing her world view with the aid of a power point presentation. It was boring and self-serving and full of misinformation. She talked about when Medicare and Social Security was going to go broke, she talked about the debt and sequester in terms that made me crazy. When mentioning the Affordable Care Act she stated immediately that she was against it from the beginning. There was a lot of applause and I was feeling a little aggravated that they were so enthusiastic over such a stupid statement. When she finished explaining how against it she was she said “but, the Affordable Care Act is the Law of the land”. That’s when I knew this was not going to be business as usual. There was applause and it wasn’t just a scattering. People I didn’t know were clapping from different spots around the room. The entire room was not with her. She continued sounding very serious and very concerned and I wanted to scream at her. But I didn’t.
After her presentation was the questions portion of the meeting. I got there late so didn’t get a chance to fill out my name and question topic on the scrap of paper. Interestingly there were more questions I would have liked to ask than the others so we were well represented. My working theory is that they didn’t know who we were and the topics chosen were “health care” etc. so in the echo chamber it looked safe. There were two questions on chained CPI. She emphasized in both answers that this was President Obamas idea, not hers or the republicans. Yes Social Security needs to be saved but without hurting old people. When a question was asked about Benghazi the crowd roared and cheered. I believe that provides insight into that section of the audience’s information sources. The question on tax fairness and bank bailouts was turned into a “let me get you more detailed information on that…I’d really like to follow up with you to get you the right information”… she’s in favor of the tar sands pipeline but opposed to the Northern Pass (local NH issue), the one gun related question was turned into a we need better mental health… the question about the job losses and services lost to children because of the sequester was answered with a “I offered a much better solution for cutting cost that wouldn’t have resulted in these problems… she’s in favor of money for the military and again the common core”…
Then it was over and we went back outside to hold our signs. I had a brief conversation with a man wearing an NRA golf shirt. When I asked him if he thought there was a difference between a person with a gun and some bullets and a person with an assault weapon and multi-bullet clips he changed the subject to abortion and asked me what I thought about all those live babies being killed… thank goodness I read this blog and follow enough links so I had some idea what he was talking about.
One of the signs I was holding said “Remember Sandy Hook”. A young woman ran up to me, grabbed the sign and pumped it in the air with a cheer then stood next to me. She looked familiar so I asked her if I knew her from somewhere. “My mother was the principal of Sandy Hook” was her response. She is on the case. She is working to make the Kelly Ayotte’s of this world pay a price for their complicity. She thanked us, we thanked her, we all hugged. I cried and it was over. Till the next time and the next time and the next time. We have the signs, we have the passion, and we will replace her while making her miserable in the interim.