Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Republican Candidate Denies Seniors The Right To Attend Townhall In Their Own Community

Yesterday afternoon Gerry Connolly had a townhall meeting at the Greenspring Retirement Community. Based upon the fact that there were panelists there from AARP and other organizations that advocate for seniors, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the meeting was designed to address some of the questions that seniors had surrounding health care reform. Considering the fact that the room was filled to capacity and there was a waitlist of at least 100 more residents, it’s safe to say that there was a lot of interest in this meeting among Greenspring residents.

What I found to be rather interesting was that there was a long waiting list of residents who wanted to get into the event, but couldn’t because there were only so many people who could get into the space. While there were seniors who had legitimate questions about how the reform would impact their medicare or specific concerns regarding treatment that they were receiving, there were Republican candidates who were there largely so that they could shake some hands and try to get some votes.

Keith Fimian, for instance, was there. In case you don’t remember, Keith Fimian is the Republican who ran against Gerry last year and has already had his cronies make a more moderate candidate drop out of the 2010 race so that he can have a clean ride to the Republican nomination. While we do live in a free country, I thought it was a shame that Fimian was willing to deny residents of Greenspring a legitimate chance to interact with their Congressman just so that he could try to score some political points. What’s even more interesting is the fact that during the campaign last year I repeatedly asked Fimian about what he felt should be done regarding health care. He never gave me an answer and kept insisting that we had more important issues to address. In other words, he didn’t feel like addressing the issue when given the chance. When it came to denying someone with legitimate questions on the topic a chance to attend a townhall about it, however, he felt that it was the right thing for him to do so that he could go shake some hands.

By denying a senior the opportunity to attend a townhall meeting in their own community, Keith Fimian has helped to illustrate how the right wing of the Republican Party views the healthcare debate as an opportunity to score political points instead of an opportunity to provide Americans with the affordable health care coverage that they deserve. By making sure that a more moderate candidate dropped out of the Republican primary, however, the leaders of the Republican Party here in the 11th CD have made it clear that they support people like Fimian who put their own interests before those of the community.


  1. maybe I am wrong, but rather than blame one attendee for taking up a chair, wouldn't it make more sense to inquire why the organizers didn't choose a more suitable venue?
    I am sure there is give and take and the larger the venue the more difficult it becomes to have an "intimate" discussion on the topic.

  2. I see your point, Herb, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that Keith got in and used it as an opportunity to score political points and his presence meant that a senior who had legitimate concerns couldn't attend a townhall in their own community.

  3. First off, I am sure that there were multiple organization leaders that got in that were or were not from that district or did not deserve to be in there from both sides, and since both sides are in the wrong on that there is very little room for either side to argue with that point.

    Secondly, your point about us living in a free county is the vital point from your argument. We both live, and love to live in a country as free as the United States, and so why should we talk down on anyone, like Keith Fimian, who takes the opportunity to hold his congressman accountable for what he says. I understand that there were seniors who were there and weren't able to get in but seniors are not, by a long shot, the only voting group that has a stake in the health care debate.

    Thirdly, your point about Keith, and his "cronies" causing the more moderate candidate to drop out is an interesting one. Given, while I love to see the primary system work and have opponents, I believe even incumbents should have opponents in primaries, I think that your argument for why it was wrong for Keith to pressure the opponent is unfounded. You argue that it was wrong, and part of the "vast right wing conspiracy" (to quote a 1990s Hillary Clinton) is just part of an old argument that is used as much as calling democrats socialists or communists. I know for a fact that Gerry Connolly pressured his primary opponents last spring to resign their candidacy but it didn't work. Would you of said that that was part of a vast left wing conspiracy?

    Fourthly, and lastly, I hope that you realize that health care is the topic of the time, but last fall when Keith was running, him and Connolly both did not run on healthcare but they ran on budget, spending and national security. Keith admitted to the fact that he didn't see health care as vital as controlling spending first, and I personally believe that he was right. If the government could control spending, since now we have an admitted $9 TRILLION debt, then the health care debate would be in a completely different context. If the government would control their own spending then the American people would believe that the government could control the spending of their health care program, whatever that may become. Poll after poll has shown that health care costs, not the availablity to everyone, is the main reason that the American people want health care reform. In fact, Ted Kennedy's first health care reform action was not on universal health care, but it was on lowering the cost of health care and thus lowering the cost of insurance and coverage for everyone.

    Personally, I want to thank you for writing this blog. I read you often, and I find that you are fair and open to debate. I know that too often people on your side, and on mine do not open up to other ideas. As America will begin to celebrate the life of Ted Kennedy today I hope that the one thing that can be take from his life for both sides was that no matter if it is health care reform, poverty support, or no child left behind, we need to reach across the isle and do not what is best for the Democrats, or the Republicans, but for the American People.

  4. Red, White, and (not) Blue,
    You're right. There were other leaders who don't represent the district, but came anyways. Jay O'Brien -- the Republican who used to be in the State Senate. His presence meant that someone in the Greenspring community could not attend the meeting in their own neighborhood. Nonetheless, he left after he had a chance to talk to reporters at the beginning of the event. In other words, he didn't even stay for the whole event but still took away the opportunity for a community member to attend the meeting.

    Also, I think primaries are extremely valuable and would object anytime an extremist tried to clear moderates out of his way before the primary. That's why I don't like what Fimian did and would also raise concern if someone on the extreme left did that to a moderate Democrat.

    Finally, health care was already an important topic during the 2008 election cycle. Anyone who has talked to the "average joe" knows that they've been worried about their escalating health care costs for years. I'm sure that if you ask any of the thousands of families who went bankrupt in Northern Virginia alone last year, they'll tell you that health care actually does have an impact on our economy. If Keith Fimian were the true economic leader that he claims to be, then he would have already known that and would have made an effort to help improve our health care system.