By Grace Cangemi
If you were trying to see Rush Holt last night, perhaps you should have followed the yellow brick road - and brought your little dog along for good measure. Only 238 of Holt's valued constituents had the opportunity to see the man who is supposed to be representing them in Washington.
Nobody sees the wizard. No way. No how.
I was outside very early last night, unlike Holt's staffers, who were invisible until the meeting was nearly over. The early arrivals were predominantly against HR3200 and no Holt representative was present to tell anyone to line up right away due to the limited seating. In the absence of assistance from Holt's office, I directed the early birds to the line, prompting some people with printed "Obama" and "Thanks" signs to appear and get in line as well.
A number of people realized early on that they would not have an opportunity to see their Congressman, and decided to stay for Halfacre's meeting. Others came specially to see the mayor. Also at the park outside the Middletown Arts Center were some folks campaigning against abortion and a group of Lyndon LaRouche supporters against Obamacare. When the doors were closed on the hundreds of people waiting to see their Congressman, most of them joined Halfacre's meeting as well.
I did not get into Mr. Holt's meeting, so I can only comment on Mayor Halfacre's forum. After an introduction by Deputy Mayor Scharffenberger, Halfacre spoke briefly on HR3200. Halfacre's assertion that we needed to take a scalpel to the health care system, not a sledgehammer, was met with cheers, as were many of his remarks about the bill, which the mayor had printed and available for review.
After his comments, Mayor Halfacre invited anyone who wanted to speak to line up and have their turn at the microphone. He asked the crowd to be civil and respectful, and, when they jeered at pro-HR3200 supporters, repeatedly encouraged respect and consideration for both sides.
This was a difficult forum. While about ninety percent of the people who spoke were against the bill, as is Halfacre, the mayor listened to every single person in that line, standing in the near dark until almost nine o'clock last night to make sure that everyone who wanted to be heard had their say, whether he agreed with them or not.
Last night, while Rush Holt hid inside taking pre-written questions from 238 people, Mike Halfacre rolled up his sleeves, stood in front of all the people who were left out, and listened to what each and every person had to say. He listened carefully, quieted the crowd to allow people to have their turn, and never lost his cool.
Frank Pallone says he won't honor the will his constituents. Rush Holt saw about fifteen percent of the people who came to speak to him last night. Congressmen are our voices in Washington. Last night, Mike Halfacre showed that he wants to represent all of the people of the 12th District. Pallone and Holt have shown that they don't deserve to be called "Representatives." Last night, Mike Halfacre showed why he does.