A large crowd greeted Jim Himes with a standing ovation at last night’s Bedford Middle School “town hall meeting.”
The congressman handled a host of questions — about healthcare, the environment, taxes, trade, immigration, infrastructure, Connecticut’s economy, Nancy Pelosi and more — with poise, humor and plenty of policy knowledge.
It was a friendly crowd. There was one skeptic – a man who challenged the House Intelligence Committee member about Russian collusion in the presidential election — but he was countered by a Westport Republican who thanked the Democratic representative for doing “a beyond admirable job.”
The man added, “There are Republicans who stand behind you 100%.”
But the most intense moment came almost at the end of the 90-minute event.
A Jewish Romanian woman with a special needs son fought tears as she said that America today reminds her of “a police state.”
Describing “an atmosphere of doom and gloom,” she called propaganda “very powerful and subtle.”
Why, she asked, “can’t anyone call this administration on dismantling our government as we know it?”
Himes replied, “I’ve been in politics long enough to know that fear and division are very powerful tools — and that we Americans are susceptible to it. We respond to it.”
But, he added, “We also respond to hope and aspiration.” He used President Kennedy’s “ask not…” quote as an example.
Himes noted that people who are swayed by fear are “decent people.” Those of us in Fairfield County may not recognize how “hollowed out” other Americans may feel, he said. In those situations, placing blame on others is easy.
“It is incumbent on people like me to offer aspiration, so we don’t succumb to fear,” Himes continued.
He disagreed though with the Romanian woman’s assertion about the “dismantling” of our fundamental government institutions.
Himes cited the judiciary branch’s strong, quick and aggressive stand against President Trump’s “garbage” immigration ban. He also praised the role being played by the media.
“Each and every one of us needs to stand up and say ‘No, you won’t,'” Himes said.
Fairfield County has been exceedingly lucky, politically. For over 30 years we’ve had superb representation in Congress.
Stewart McKinney, Chris Shays and now Jim Himes. Republican or Democrat — it doesn’t make a difference. Our congressmen look out for all of us in this district.
Last night at Bedford, an audience of Democrats and Republicans said “thank you.”