Email #114, Subject: “conducive to conversation”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham deserves some credit. He scheduled a town hall meeting the day after the AHCA was defeated and faced a packed auditorium of mostly Democratic constituents in Columbia, South Carolina. An article described him having to shout to be heard over the angry boos.

You have said you will not hold your own town halls for exactly this reason. You claim “traditional” town halls are not “shouting matches.” This of course is not true. As I’ve written to you previously, YouTube videos of your 2009 town halls document shouts and boos directed at questioners who spoke in support of the ACA. Still, I understand your excuse. I would not want stand in front of hundreds of angry voters either.

That’s why I would like to invite you to Lexington. I am a co-organizer of a local activist group here that started up in December before any of us heard about the Indivisible movement. You have complained that Indivisible is controlling anti-Republican protests nationally, instructing members to boo and shout at their Representatives. That is not the case in Lexington. We are fully grassroots and independent. Though we attract predominantly Democrats, our County Unity subcommittee exists solely to find ways to bridge political divides. We want bipartisan solutions—something you have said you seek too.

Your chief-of-staff Pete Larkin attended Debbie Garrett’s last Open Door Meeting in Lexington. Like Debbie, Pete seems like an upstanding person. I was sitting quietly grading papers before the meeting started and he came up and introduced himself with a friendly handshake. Like Debbie, he listened respectfully to me when it was my turn to speak before the room. I asked him to encourage you to hold a town hall here in Lexington, and he said he would. I think he can vouch for all the community members who spoke that Thursday. There were no boos, no shouting. A request was made that no one hang signs on the walls, and it was obeyed without a word of complaint.

We are reasonable people who would like to have a reasonable conversation with our Representative. You said that recent town halls in other states were not “conducive to conversation.” I agree. I invite you to Lexington to have a literal conversation with me and other constituents, a polite back-and-forth in which we can ask you fair questions and follow-ups, giving you as much time and silent attention as you need to answer them thoughtfully and thoroughly. If any attendee should boo or shout or wave a sign, I will stand on the stage beside you and address them myself.

Please come to Lexington and have a conversation with us.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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