In this politically divisive era, I attended a really refreshing event Tuesday night.
The Newton Republican City Committee invited three Democrats — state Sen. Cindy Cream, Rep. Ruth Balser and Rep. Kay Khan – to meet with them at the Emerson Community Center.
And they accepted.
And although GOP City Committee Chair Tom Mountain’s invitation to his members was certainly divisive, the event turned out quite differently.
It began with Mountain presenting a rather rambling history of famous Newton Republicans; followed by ten-minute presentations from each elected leader, outlining their legislative agenda and goals; followed by an hour or so of questions, answers and – almost always – civil back and forth conversations.
Even though the 40 or so attendees included a half dozen or so folks wearing bright red Make America Great Again hats and even though there were substantive disagreements on issues – immigration, guns, abortion — the speakers all received warm rounds of applause. Other than one fellow who stormed out because he didn’t like Balser’s denial that she didn’t support infanticide, everyone was pretty cool, calm and collected.
To their credit, the Democratic lawmakers didn’t pander or seem to water down their answers.
And to their credit, the attendees shared their perspective and their concerns and then listened to what their guests had so say.
It was frank, respectful and encouraging. I learned things from both sides. I suspect others did too.
Here’s hoping it becomes an annual tradition.