Hempstead NY, Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks at podium at start of Town Hall Meeting at Hofstra University, Long Island.

Gillibrand Town Hall at Hofstra: Civics, Civility, & (sort of) Selfies

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
October 6, 2018

Hempstead NY, USA, Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND poses with, L-R, MARIA TERESA ROMERO, ELSA FORD, and MILLIE MOTA, members of Brentwood Bay Shore Breast Cancer Coalition, at end of Town Hall at Hofstra University. (Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Hempstead, NY, USA. Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), 2nd from right, poses with, L-R, Maria Teresa Romero, Elsa Ford, and Millie Mota, members of Brentwood Bay Shore Breast Cancer Coalition, at end of Town Hall at Hofstra. (© 2018 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Town Hall at Hofstra University last night, Oct. 5th, landed at the start of the Columbus Day holiday weekend. But midterm elections were only 31 days away, and the Student Center Theater was packed. 

INTRO

After going through security and entering the theater, any audience member who wanted to ask Senator Gillibrand a question took a red raffle ticket, and put half of it in a glass bowl.  

Hofstra’s Dean Meena Bose, the moderator, introduced the senator, who spoke for a while.  

Q&A

For the Q&A, tickets were drawn at random from the bowl. 

Judge Kavanaugh

An early question was about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh – a highly controversial appointment the Senate was voting on the next day. Gillibrand planned to vote against his confirmation because she felt he’d put Roe VS Wade in danger, and “Kavanaugh,” she said, “he doesn’t value women, does not respect women, or listen to them.” 

Young Voters:

To a politically active but frustrated young voter, Gillibrand stressed the importance of being heard, voting, fighting for our country and values, and not giving up hope:

Don’t lose hope. Truth is, our Democracy never works unless regular people stand up and demand action.

Even though we may not have the votes to defeat Kavanaugh, millions of people protested over the last weeks and months to be heard. And I can tell you they’re not going to stop, and you shouldn’t stop. Because what opportunity we have next is the November elections.

And, if we can really be heard and talk about our values and our priorities and how disappointing it is to have someone like Brett Kavanaugh serve on the Supreme Court

– if we articulate that by voting, and organizing our communities, and even running if you think we must

– you’re gonna transform government, you’re gonna flip the house, and you’re gonna flip the senate, and that will create enormous oversight and accountability over the Trump administration, and give us a chance of unwinding some of the horrible things this president has already done, so do not lose hope.

And most successful movements in this country have been student lead movements. So when young people care deeply, their parents care deeply, and so do their communities.

So do not give up hope or grow weary because this country is worth fighting for, and our values are worth fighting for.

Opioid Crisis:

A Hofstra alumnus asked what was really going to be done to deal with the opioid crisis.b

Senator Gillibrand said, “Children are dying all across this country.”  More – plus more effective – Prevention, Intervention and Response were needed.

Trump 2020:
An audience member asked, “For those of use who are on the ground, and are working hard everyday, and are gonna keep on working, what can we do so we can make sure we don’t end up with another Trump or somebody worse in 2020, outside from asking people like you to run in 2020, in all sincerity?”

“…The reasons why President Trump won – Let’s just take Trump…. What did he bring to the table?

I think one of the reasons why Trump won is because he mislead the American public – by using some of the strongest Democratic arguments about what direction this country needs to go in:
– The System’s Rigged (Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Rigged to help powerful & wealthy.)
Trade Deals (Bernie Sanders: I want to see Made in America, competition, growth economy.)
Also – not Democratic:  Build the Wall, his hateful racist dog whistle message intended to divide the country.

…He lied, he didn’t do the things he said he was going to do.

I believe this election will be transformative – because now people know he did not mean what he said. He is not on our side. When he promised to disrupt the system on behalf of the worker, on behalf the middle class, he didn’t mean it, and he’s not going to do it.

So I think people now are skeptical…. and I think we’re gonna flip the house and the senate, so I would not lose hope, and I would be very optimistic.

I think people were confused by what President Trump was actually gonna go, and you also had the mischief in the election.

I believe we will win, in both ’18 and ’20 because I think America believes in a set of values that President Trump doesn’t believe in…. We believe in the golden rule. And everything we fight for is about making sure everyone has a chance at the American Dream.

So whether you believe that health care is a right, not a privilege – clean water is a right – every kid should have access to a good education – that people shouldn’t be with laden with debt after college – that people should have the training to get a good job to earn their way to middle class, those 4 values will be on the ballot 2020.

Those are American values I believe New Yorkers and people across the county will vote for, and that will be very different leadership than today.

Immigration:

The last question was a long, multi-part one about immigration, and the audience softly booed when the questioner said the parents of Dreamers should never get citizenship.

When Senator Gillibrand’s response started with “I disagree,” the audience cheered. She then added, “That was a heartfelt question, so let me tell you why I disagree,” and responded energetically. 

    • VIDEO – Immigration:

When Gillibrand concluded the Q&A with these rousing points on immigration, the audience applauded loudly:

….Fundamentally, do not be afraid of people who need our help. We are rich. We are powerful. We can create a growing economy.

And the things that create a growing economy is diversity – is ingenuity – is entrepreneurism – is innovation, and that comes from the beautiful panoply of America.

Q&A topics also included:

  • Support of Senate bills protecting wildlife whose numbers are dangerously low.
  • Support of Peace legislation: Senate Bill S.2047, Preventing Preemptive War with North Korea Act of 2017, which has 13 out of 100 senators currently backing it.
  • Fighting hunger, including through food stamps – whose main recipients are children, seniors, and veterans – and through non-profit programs such as  Island Harvest – Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization. Gillibrand explained it “marshals food and supplies from people who have offered it to those who need it most.”

(Sort of) SELFIES

After the Q&A, Gillibrand promised to stay as long as it took for everyone who wanted a selfie with her to get one. The line stretched from the stage to partway across the back of the theater. People handed their cell phones to an aide who took the photos.


Gillibrand Town Hall, Hofstra:  SLIDESHOW | GALLERY

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