This past Saturday, October 28th, a few members of the Flood ventured over to the Wauwatosa Public Library to attend a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who represents the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. We met up with friends from nearby campuses and our small group consisted of the youngest people there. The room was nearly full, and in terms of partisanship, the room appeared to be split – half the people were there to support him, and the other half were not.
For the most part, those who were called on to speak had questions for Sensenbrenner about the things he was doing wrong. A constituent came forward and expressed dismay at the fact that his office was difficult to access, on purpose. When confronted with this accusation, he explained that the office policy had been changing frequently in the past few months, for the safety of the office staff. While this explanation makes sense, I don’t understand why this issue wasn’t explained to the constituent sooner, during her constant struggle in contacting his office. When asked about his views on the environment, and the Paris Climate Agreement, he stated that it was a scam by India and China to take money from the US and give it to developing countries. This was a surprise to me because I’ve never heard this argument before, and it definitely wasn’t a strong enough argument to change my mind. One woman from the crowd stood up and asked, “Mr. Sensenbrenner, are you pro-life”? “Of course,” he replied. She continued by asking “Why did you vote against aid to Puerto Rico? Why did you destroy Obamacare? Why isn’t there a new health system?” She completely obliterated him, and it was incredible. It was such a brilliant way to set up her argument, and he could hardly defend himself because she was so successful.
It was the first town hall the Flood has attended, and we learned a lot from it. We made observations about how the set-up and organization depends on how the politician can control a room of people. We also observed that old people tend to be incredibly short-tempered. Overall, we had a great experience, and it felt good to immerse ourselves in some local public engagement.