by Mario Salvagno
Tuesday night I finally went to my first congressional town hall. Though decidedly overdue, it was my inaugural experience of this sacrosanct tradition in American politics. Because after all, in this representative democracy, they are yet supposed to listen to & advocate for us in some capacity, no?
I set my expectations low, given the current state of our political apparatus. But low was still a bit too high apparently. From the completely unnecessary and largely irrelevant monologue at the beginning of Garamendi’s (delayed) appearance all the way through to the abrupt & unsatisfactory ending, he never once provided a direct answer to the question of supporting the Green New Deal. In fact, the congressman exclusively referred to it as the “New Green Deal,” which strikes me as possibly intentionally demeaning. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that a longtime Democratic politician could forget and/or miss an opportunity to reference the biggest achievement in the party’s history.
But our 10-year representative was generally more interested in defending his own perceived achievements throughout his career. To be fair, there are some legitimate environmental projects he can point to. However, a recurring theme throughout the night repeated by myself and others was the absolute inadequacy of the entirety of public policy when matched against the all-encompassing threat of climate change.
Garamendi’s quote to The Enterprise was the closest thing to a straight answer he delivered all night, and I doubt any other citizens who attended the town hall heard it either. Talking down to, dodging, and placating one’s constituency is certainly one way to handle an assembly of people to which you are beholden. Whether it is a strong enough strategy to justify brushing off mention of a progressive primary challenger, as he did, remains to be seen.
Vaguely gesturing towards a solar-powered military industrial complex and something about wind turbines, as it just so happens, is no longer an acceptable response. Nor should it ever have been. We are behind schedule, to put it mildly, and WE NEED TO START ACTING LIKE IT. We no longer have time to pat ourselves on the back for previous, stop-gap solutions. Elected representatives do not deserve extra credit for doing the bare minimum in the past. They would do well to remember that they serve at our privilege, and that it is 100% voluntary. This is literally what they sign up for. Now if Congressman Garamendi has a preferred proposal that is also appropriately comprehensive as to the existential challenge we face, he should present it immediately upon return to Washington. Otherwise, it is well past time to listen to constituents and take ambitious action.