As millions of Americans prepare to contact their US representatives in defense of Social Security, we in Virginia’s 9th Congressional District found our task remarkably easy. In opening remarks for his constituent town hall Saturday morning, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) cut to the chase concerning privatization:
I can state my views very simply: I'm against it, he said.
The crowd of 100, including 10 local Democracy for Virginia members, gave him rousing applause. The Fightin’ 9th, which Boucher noted has the 9th most Social Security recipients and the 7th highest percentage of elderly citizens of any congressional district in the nation, isn’t swallowing Bush privatization snake oil.
One lone supporter of privatization turned out to be part of an out-of-town front group, revealed Richmond Times Dispatch staff writer, Rex Bowman, in an article on Sunday.
Promoting the Bush privatization scheme, the groups’ members fan out to hundreds of public meetings. Bowman writes:
Outside the meeting room, Lewis described himself as a Bush supporter who belongs to a group whose members have attended hundreds of public meetings to support the administration's Social Security plan. He said he appreciated the openness of Boucher's town-hall gathering, despite the comments of the man who sat in front of him.
"Democracy is a wonderful thing, and I appreciate him offering me an opportunity to state my opinion," Lewis said.
The visitor worked the press and the Congressional staffer with ease, which tipped off the DFA contingent he was a pro. And the sharply dressed man with his Fix Social Security Now button contrasted sharply with locals wearing jeans and sneakers. But perhaps most telling was this lone supporter’s reason for wanting privatization: He wanted to inherit his Dad’s Social Security.
Reporter Bowman began the
article with a contrast between the tightly restricted and scripted
Bush town halls and the more freewheeling version here. In addition,
Bowman quoted our own Morton Nadler: "Nobody was screened at the door
to come here."
Democrats aren’t even allowed
at Bush gatherings. However, here a carpetbagger was given ample time
to air his views. Nadler also nailed another point by criticizing
Bush’s photo-op bad-mouthing of US bonds, "He’s doing his best to ruin
the credit of the United States", said Nadler.
I thanked Rep. Boucher for his
support of Social Security and opposition to the Bush scheme, noting
that Boucher’s assertion that Social Security is the most successful
program in government history was identical to one in 2000 by
then-presidential candidate George W. Bush.
Bowman quoted my quick explanation for the Bush shift:
'Politics and greed,' said Kathryn Welch, summarizing her views of the Bush plan.
In his wanting more for himself, the roving front-man couldn’t have illustrated my point better. Though Bowman gave way too much space to the only dissenter, this article was an excellent overview of the meeting.
This weekend, 9th District Democrats were reminded that, despite disagreements with Congressman Boucher from time to time (such as on the bankruptcy bill), more often than not we agree with him. That’s quite a breath of fresh air in a such a heavily Republican district. It’s also easy to see why voters of both parties appreciate Rick. Boucher does his homework. He is the most knowledgeable representative, at any level, I’ve ever had. Saturday he ticked off one domestic issue after another, skillfully explaining nuances of proposals and why he endorses them (or not). His careful attention to detail contrasts sharply with other pols who gloss over details for warm fuzzies. He always answers the question, including every subpart. He listens. And he’s respectful of his adversaries.
Our experience Saturday made me wonder: What if more Democrats
routinely attended these meetings to support and defend our Democratic
representatives and question Republicans?
Perhaps it’s time we add such activities to our rapid response
agenda. If out-of-towners are trying to influence our meetings,
shouldn’t we be there too? What better use of a Saturday morning that
to protect the America we love and the values we hold dear?
Although this was my first Boucher town hall, it won’t be my last.