By Congressman Dave Brat (R, VA-7)
My work in Washington is only part of my job, and I take my responsibility to the people back home seriously. I have made accessibility a top priority with townhall meetings and “Chats with Brat,” and done my best to use time around my D.C. work schedule to get around the district at every opportunity to hear input from people going about their everyday lives.
Excerpt from “Friends of Dave Brat, Inc.” message dated May 16, 2017
Since the November election, we’ve seen the rise of the so-called “Resistance” movement, and a new, very hostile, political environment. Meetings that used to be friendly and informative for all have been hijacked by the institutional left and turned into made-for-TV protests against every piece of our positive, pro-growth agenda.
If you were needing more evidence that the goal of the Resist movement is not insightful, civil dialogue on the issues, you didn’t have to look too far last week. My joint townhall in Midlothian with State Senator Amanda Chase this past Tuesday was very instructive on that front. Here’s a brief summary of what took place, as reported by the Washington Examiner:
Brat took 35 questions from audience members over the course of an hour and a half, with much of the discussion—especially early on—focused on the [GOP healthcare] bill and the effects on individuals with pre-existing conditions. Of the first 21 questions asked, 13 centered on healthcare, while 15 of the 35 questions overall were related to the issue, which has sent Democratic voters into a frenzy after the Thursday vote. Throughout, Brat attempted to describe the language in the bill pertaining to pre-existing conditions, only to be shouted down by dissatisfied voters, many of whom voiced support for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders over President Trump when asked for a show of hands.
During the townhall, I made every effort to explain why I voted for the American Health Care Act, taking a full ten minutes at one point to thoroughly explain, in detail, how the bill maintains protections for people with pre-existing conditions. I read language from one of the amendments adopted before the vote that specifically said nothing in the bill should be construed otherwise. Even so, the jeering and yelling from disruptive audience members made it nearly impossible for other constituents to hear a word.
Now, let me tell you what you didn’t see reported by the mainstream press. In something reminiscent of the shocking moments at the 2012 Democratic National Convention where delegates to the DNC loudly booed the inclusion of “God” and “Jerusalem” in their party platform—leftist protesters at my townhall loudly boo’d when I mentioned God and God-given rights. Erick Erickson has the video, and a transcript of the exchange on his website. He writes:
The loudest voices—the ones angrily booing—were booing a very basic American principle that still holds broad sway in this nation except for on the extreme Left. And the loudest voices in that audience didn’t strike me as terribly representative of the people of Virginia’s 7th District nor of the country at large. The idea that our rights come from God and that government exists to protect these rights is not a terribly controversial concept (or at least it shouldn’t be), as it is forms the very bedrock of our nation’s founding. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson penned the following words that every American should really know by heart (and that many if not most probably already do): ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ This is what our Founders believed and this is what our nation was founded on. So, it would seem that Representative Brat had it absolutely correct. Our rights do come from God. And government does exist to protect those God-given rights. That’s something worth affirming, not booing.
What we are witnessing taking place all over the country is not the classical liberal tradition of the Democratic party we all grew up knowing. Something new and toxic is brewing. I don’t think many of my Democratic friends are happy about this new debasement of their tradition. In fact, members of my staff talked with several Democrats who left the townhall early in disgust, because they wanted nothing to do with the behavior being displayed by members of their party.
In a video clip posted at the Bull Elephant blog, I asked the attendees for a show of hands if they wanted tax cuts or higher taxes for more government programs, and whether they wanted less government regulation or more. Watch the video to see how they responded. The enthusiasm for bigger government, a broader nanny state that reaches into every aspect of our lives, is stunning. For the sake of our country, I hope and pray that new leaders will emerge in the Democratic Party who will pull back on their party’s leftward lurch that is targeting the traditions and foundations that made our country great. Over and over, history has proven: Freedom and big government cannot coexist.
ICYMI: My Interview with Maria Bartiromo
Maria Bartiromo and I discussed the video footage from my townhall and the hostile takeover of townhalls across the country on her program last week. ICYMI, you can watch the interview here: