Today's Topic



Townhall Meeting
with Senator McCain

Natalia J. Garland

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Townhall Meetings are for the old and the young. Anyway, that's how it seemed to me when I attended a Townhall Meeting conducted by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). He came to my little corner of the world last week and spoke at a local high school. Maybe that accounts for the number of young people: the meeting was accessible to them and took place just a couple of hours after school. Even so, I would not have expected the older and somewhat conservative McCain to attract teenagers. The great majority of attendees, however, were senior citizens and the auditorium was packed.

This was my first Townhall Meeting. After watching such meetings on the T.V. news, I wanted to see for myself what they were really like. Would people yell and scream, call the speaker bad names, or carry protest signs? No, none of the above. Everyone, seniors and teenagers, were quite cordial and they expressed their heartfelt concern for the future of America. McCain presented himself as energetic, well-informed, jovial at times, and compassionate always. I kept waiting for something to happen--maybe a war protestor dressed in pink would run down the aisle--but the meeting was peaceful to the very end. So, my curiosity about Townhall behavior was satisfied. I felt proud to be a part of the community and honored to see the Senator.

McCain's speech focused on the current healthcare plan and its probable negative impact on the nation's budget, the need to preserve Social Security and Medicare benefits, the war in Afghanistan, the Ft. Hood massacre, and support for America's military. Questions from the attendees tended to focus on healthcare and small businesses, oil drilling and nuclear power, education, and there were a couple of stories of personal hardship because of unemployment and inflation. Upon reflection, I don't remember ever hearing the word President Obama.* McCain criticized the Democrats a couple of times, but there was absolutely no Obama-bashing from anyone.

Although I had heard the rumors of tension between McCain and Sarah Palin (or between McCain's presidential campaign staff and Palin), McCain himself initiated a positive remark in reference to Sarah Palin. He did not actually say her name, but everyone knew who he meant. You just had to fill in the blank. That remark drew one of the loudest and longest rounds of applause. McCain grinned, and nodded his head in approval. That satisfied another curiosity of mine--whether or not McCain really liked Palin.

Now, what do the old and the young have in common? Perhaps free time? Or perhaps both groups are the most fearful about their future. The old have worked hard, and fear losing everything and then living out their old-old age in destitution. The young have yet to live, and fear never having anything. Perhaps those between their 20's and 60's are better equipped to make adjustments and carry burdens. Some of the burdens, however, are going to fall upon those teenagers as soon as they graduate--regardless of their financial or emotional capabilities. Perhaps McCain, who suffered and sacrificed so much, but who lost the last presidential election, can still light a way forward. Let us have hope and be pro-active.

If you are interested, I took a few photographs at the meeting. I certainly do not agree with McCain on everything, but I respect him as a war hero and public servant. I wonder....what would America be like right now if he were President? (Written 11/16/09)

[*ADDED NOTE: Today I remembered that McCain did mention Obama once: McCain read a quotation from Obama regarding Obama's promise of transparency, including televising government proceedings on C-SPAN, which has never happened.] (Written 11/17/09)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2009 Natalia J. Garland