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Brian Mast’s First Town Hall

Brian Mast's First Town Hall photo: Marilyn Kane

GOP Representative Brian Mast held his first in-person town hall meeting with his constituents.

Brian Mast held his first town hall last Friday. I was unfortunately unable to attend but I watched it via live feed. I thought it went really well. Apparently not the rest of the new outlets around here that described it as rowdy.

Democracy is loud. It is not a spectator sport. Be proud Congressional District 18! You did great!

And Kudo’s to Brian who was determined to listen and hear everyone out.

Our democracy is not about one man. It’s about us. It’s is not a spectator sport.

 

Yes he was cheered and jeered. The most important thing is that our local citizens were participating in democracy. Everyone was welcome. Not much different that anything that went on at Boston Common’s during the revolution. Look how great that turned out!

 

 Revolutionary war reenactment Boston Common photo: Cyndi lenz


Revolutionary war reenactment Boston Common
photo: Cyndi lenz

 

Brian personally invited everyone

The town hall originally was supposed to only focus on veterans issues. Brian opened it up to all. He personally came on our Facebook page at TreasureCoast.com and invited the entire public.  I appreciate that. Several hundred people showed up. It was standing room only.  Don’t even try to make this into something where other people showed up to  a veteran’s only event.  That’s not what happened.

Mast reaffirmed his position that he wanted everyone to have access to health care, but that the Affordable Health Care wasn’t affordable. He also sided with President Trump on several other issues, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border. But he did appear to side with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham in that any ties between Trump and Russia should be investigated.

I reached out to some folks who went to see how they felt after they left this is what they said.

 Marilyn Kane:

I voted for Mast because of his endorsement by bullsugar. I went hopeful, left chest fallen. He patiently and eloquently answered each question regarding The Wall, Planned Parenthood, ACA, Drumpf’s taxes, Russia, with excuses and deflections based on the Republican talking points. Already he has betrayed our trust regarding the environment…voted to allow mines to pollute and hunters to kill defenseless wolves and bears. Had the nerve to say that our environment will be protected by the individual states EPA’s !!! like that’s going to happen anytime soon in Fla

(I heartily agree Marilyn. State’s rights in Florida is a scary proposition)
River Warriors in da house! Marilyn and Linnea.

River Warriors in da house! Marilyn and Linnea.

 Cindy C. Strait :

I left feeling pretty helpless, unsatisfied and, while he appeared to listen, I still felt we were not heard. I found most of his responses to be evasive, simplistic or just factually wrong. Mast presents better than the president but pretty much parrots his talking points. When people mentioned specific bills he often claimed to have not had them ‘cross’ his desk yet. He reverted to states’ rights a lot but rivers cross state lines. I also was disturbed when Mast didn’t tell a supporter to direct comments and questions to him and not the audience members. No one else did that except this one man who was a Trump and Mast supporter.

Shirley A Frye:

Brian is a difficult candidate to run against because he is extremely personable. Has a very engaging non-confrontational manner. But unfortunately he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His votes reflect anti-environment, pro big money interests, increasing the divide between the haves and have-nots. His implicit acquiescence to walls, ICE raids and muslim bans, anti planned parenthood follow the Trump-Republican lead of white male rich man power. Very sad.I wanted to like him.

 

Laurie Prim said.

“I left feeling good about the process, both that he showed up and was what I felt fair and open in having discussion, and that there was no huge ruckus for the media to sensationalize into us looking like “rowdy protesters” which they did to an extent anyway, but not like it could have been. And I was SO PROUD at how prepared and informed and (mostly) composed we were as opposed to the blithering trumpsters still yelling the same old tired, ignoramus things, then walking out. I honestly thought they were pathetic, and that we were in charge of the conversation there and they and Mast knew it. All in all, I was glad that I felt like it laid the ground work for future meetings. The content, on the other hand, is totally depressing. How do we even hope to make real change with someone who is still adamant about a wall and supports t-rump and Bannon? I don’t doubt he’s sincere about wanting to help vets. And I want to believe him on being open to the rest, but right now I sure don’t. Anyone who is not practically going hoarse talking about protecting our democracy from the madness going on right now does not have my support. Thanks for writing up!”

Melissa Gardner:

I was surprised at all the vets who were anti-Trump! I thought it would be more evenly split since the military, especially the older generation, is traditionally more conservative. It was good to see the crusty ones in the “Vietnam Veteran” hats yelling along with (and louder than) the rest of us. Vets on both sides of me were anti-Trump.

photo credit: Marilyn Kane

photo credit: Marilyn Kane

Francesca De Lorme:

“I left feeling conflicted and very, very worried.

Thought the Town Hall went really well. Was reassured that there were more of “us” and fewer of “them” (can’t believe I just said that…) and that we all were pretty civil given the tense circumstances so that made me feel good about our community as a whole and community is important to me because in the end, it is each other we will most likely be depending on and looking to if things go bad.

Impressed

I also was impressed that Mast came and that he stayed long after to answer questions. I suspect that OUR (everyone’s) behavior was partially reassuring to him. That made it easier for him to stay, but he clearly listened to EVERYONE who had something to say. He seemed to show great empathy and openness, but from watching I got the impression that while he likes interacting with people, he likes things on his own terms.

Now I’m going to say something very controversial and purely speculative based on personal experience that explains just one of the reasons I left feeling very worried… My experiences with military men who have been battle hardened is that they have no trouble sticking to orders and making sacrifices of their troops when necessary. When you’ve sent men you know to their deaths I believe it can pave the way to making it easier to take health care away from the masses whom you don’t personally know, even if you are aware they will suffer, and still strongly believe you are doing the right thing for America.

Sacrifice

Many men like this are willing to sacrifice it all for their country and as a result they are fine sacrificing constituents as well. It’s due in part to how they process their war time experiences and what they’ve been through and it tends to be a different type of processing and outcome than what goes on in the brain of the young vet who had done 3 tours in Iraq and so courageously spoke out. Watching Mast in action like that it’s just something I couldn’t shake an awareness of. Of course I may be totally wrong about Mast, he PROMISED everyone is going to be fine…and he may truly be a protector warrior for his constituents rather than a battling warrior for his party and his vision of how things ought to be in America.

Mast is a rock star. He is VERY impressive in action and is either truly and deeply sincere about his job or he is an amazing fake — and this is what worries me. At a time of unprecedented threat from forces within our country, my congressman is someone I want to trust and sadly, I don’t trust him.

Formidable

If he is what I suspect he is, that rock star personality and ability to handle people, combined with the drive and stubbornness that gets a man through what he went through and to the place where he is now, is a formidable combination that will make him difficult to deal with if he blindly follows the party line as we have seen so far. He says he wants to hear from everyone and that he won’t follow the party line, but I’m waiting to SEE his actions and I want something more than charisma and promises.

I also emerged from the meeting to find that Bannon had been interviewed at CPAC and what he had to say was terrifying and that the WH had banned several news media sources. Whatever little ray of hope I may have felt after the THM immediate evaporated upon reading those two things.

Reached out

I also reached  out to Congressman Mast and am waiting to hear back from him.

I will say this about Brian. The first forum I saw him in he was total states rights about the water. He went out with the Indian River Keeper. Then our toxic algae disaster happened. He was here. I was here. We were all here. Brian signed the Now of Neverglades declaration. He promised he would help fix the water. He changed his stance with real time evidence that affected him. This to me means he has the ability to process information.( As opposed to opposed to people that take a stand and refuse to give it up in the face of overwhelming facts and evidence.) That gives me hope.

I would suggest adding some people who are not partisan to your staff Brian. Let’s do something new and different. Let’s be an example to the rest of the US that WE the people of Treasure Coast and Northern Palm Beach county can do the work to make things great!

We reached out to Congressman Mast and he said this:

“I walked away understanding there is still a great deal of dialog to be had. Dialog should always continue but some people are very clearly worried and creating worry is never my intent.”

 

Please feel welcome to express your view!

Thank you so much Melissa Gardner and Marilyn Kane for the photos and videos.

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