Let’s have a civil, productive town hall meeting

Only our readers who live under a rock somewhere along the Susan River could be unaware of the deep divides and divisions in our country, county and city right now. The Democrats and the Republicans still seem to be at each other’s throats, the president’s under new fire almost daily, there’s violence in streets in the south as protesters and defenders of Civil War monuments battle each other and dozens of local residents complain about law and order and the administration of our criminal justice system.

All across the country, Republican members of Congress who visit their home districts to hold town hall meetings have run into a buzz saw of criticism, including Doug LaMalfa, who represents us in the United States House of Representatives. At an Aug. 7 town hall meeting in Chico, a feisty LaMalfa held his own against a hostile crowd.

The Chico News and Review reported, “If Rep. Doug LaMalfa were to take the advice of several people who spoke at Monday’s town hall meeting in Chico and resign from his job immediately, he would find a second career in the world of professional wrestling … Not only did he appear unaffected by the boos and jeers that rained down upon him from many of the roughly 400 constituents … he also repeatedly loosed comments that served no purpose other than stir the ire of his detractors.”

According to the News and Review, LaMalfa assumed a combative stance from the start as the crowd opposed many of his positions on “health care, the environment, immigration and other issues,” and the first district congressman asked people to be respectful “if we want to do any more” town halls.” At one point he even told the crowd, “Yeah, go ahead and boo away.”

One man told the weekly newspaper, LaMalfa “didn’t seem to take any questions very seriously, and, perhaps encouraged by Trump’s example, he doesn’t mind being a bully … You have to wonder why he even bothered facing this predictably hostile crowd. Maybe he just wanted to slap his opponents around a little.”

The review reported, “Only one of the speakers praised LaMalfa, saying he supported the congressman and lamented the level of discord in political discourse.”

Even here in the Republican stronghold of Susanville, LaMalfa’s suffered a couple of rowdy town hall meetings in which emotions ruled, even among the conservatives who attended the meeting. A town hall meeting can be mighty contentious when a congressman mixes it up with those of his own party and his own base.

Now let’s pause to take a deep breath. People hold differing opinions about every imaginable topic, and thankfully here in America, that’s OK. Have your opinion. Speak your mind. Let the congressman know what you like and what you dislike. The purpose of this town hall is to allow a dialog between our congressman and his constituents. Jeers, taunts, threats and disrespect do not serve this important conversation. If we all keep our cool — if all we both talk and listen — LaMalfa’s town hall meeting in Susanville could just be a model for other town hall meetings across the nation. The meeting will be held today, Tuesday, Aug. 22 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall.