To Charlie Keller, re: Lexington Town Hall

Dear Charlie,

I just want to give you a promising update. Last week I proposed that the Rockbridge Republicans co-host a town hall for Mr. Goodlatte in Lexington. I met with the chair and treasurer yesterday over coffee, and they are both enthusiastically on board. Roger works in DC during the week and he said he would contact your office about the proposal himself. Like me, they saw the potential for creating a civil, balanced format that could be a model for other elected officials and towns across the country.

Our conversation was productive in itself and a sign that it’s possible to change divisive political norms. Roger and I started out on a very bad foot while commenting back and forth on my Facebook page. He had reason to believe I lied about having emailed him (it eventually became clear that I had his email address wrong) and some insults followed–evidence that online formats can be disastrous for real communication. But Roger later said on the same thread to another commenter:

“Chris Gavaler sat down with me and Charles W. J. Kostelni from my committee to discuss a wide array of issues. While we certainly disagree on a wide variety of issues, we proved that Republican and Democrats can share a cup of coffee and have a civil discussion. This is a start. And I’m highly encouraged.”

The other commenter had started out annoyed and combative, but she quickly thanked him for his “courteous response.” The exchange alone shows how important it is for members of opposing parties to sit down and talk face-to-face.

I trust Mr. Goodlatte will be pleased to hear that he has indirectly fostered civil discussions, and I hope he will join in directly soon himself. Please let me know what next steps we can take to bring him to Lexington. Do you need a more formal proposal from me or the Rockbridge Republicans or do you have enough information for now? I hope you’re as highly encouraged as Roger, Charles, and I, and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Best,

Chris

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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