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.




Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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