Representative Brad Sherman thinks he’s funny. He has a perpetual grin on his face, and he always tries to make jokes during his townhalls. I have worked for managers of comedians such as Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Dana Carvey, and Martin Short, and I cast half-hour sitcoms for 30 years, so I can say with some authority that he isn’t.
Representative Sherman adopted a new format for this townhall. He said he had prepared a speech, but he knew there were subjects that would come up during the Q&A that were covered in his speech. Therefore, he’d just open the floor to questions and insert parts of his speech as applicable. I was grateful for this, because, normally, he gives an hour-long speech about some subject that doesn’t relate to the concerns of the audience.
Representative Sherman conducts his Q&A sessions by raffle. His staffers hand out tickets, and then draw numbers from a bag, and if your number is called, you get to ask a question. I told the staffers I objected to this method, and they should just allow people to line up to ask questions.
The Q&A started slowly, with questions about what to do with drug dealers and drug rehab programs. There were questions about mass transit, about net neutrality, about teachers accused of misconduct, and so forth. A professor from CSUN asked what the government was going to do about the crushing debt of student loans. Apparently, he thought taxpayers should pay for the students’ bad choices. If people can’t afford college, they should go to less expensive colleges, and work their way through school. No one forces them to take on this “crushing debt”. One man said that if we care about what is happening to our country, we should vote for the Republican who is running against Sherman. The audience applauded this. The questions that got the loudest response from the crowd were the ones about the NSA spying scandal, and obamacare.
A woman asked about TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), which Obama is trying to push through. As much as I don’t like Brad Sherman’s political views, I give him credit for saying he was against TPP. He said it would cause more job losses and lower wages. He said he voted against NAFTA, GATT, and several of the other trade agreements. I applaud him for those votes.
When the subject of obamacare came up, the crowd erupted! A man asked “how dare those in Washington tell us what kind of insurance we must have, and how much we must pay?!” Most of the crowd cheered, but there were a few who shouted “single-payer!” (though they, obviously, have no idea what they are wishing for). Sherman went into his standard answer about people who go to the ER and can’t pay their bills are causing hospitals to incur increased costs. Of course, he never mentioned how competition could help remedy the situation, or that we could buy insurance for the uninsured for a tiny fraction of what obamacare costs. He talked about the website as if it were the only problem with the program. He said the company who designed the site did a terrible job, but Republicans fighting obamacare prevented the website from being fixed. The crowd went crazy. People booed and yelled. One woman in the front row stood up and yelled, “You lie, stop lying!”
Once the crowd calmed down somewhat, an old man with a walker came right up to Sherman, and began talking to him. Sheman tried to tell him to get back in line, and wait his turn, but the old guy was having none of it. He said he was a Veteran, and came there to yell at Sherman. He said Veterans are not being taken care of. He kept talking, even as Sherman tried to get him to leave. A police officer came up, but, fortunately, was gentle with the old guy. The old guy finally walked away, still saying Veterans were not being taken care of.
I’ve been going to Brad Sherman’s townhalls for several years now. At the first ones, years ago, the crowd was mostly in support of his views, but I think the tide has turned. Last year, most of the crowds were decidedly not supportive of him. I don’t know if it’s because some leftists are waking up, or more Conservatives are attending. Regardless of the reason, I certainly hope it continues.