Yesterday, I was honored to host Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Hamlet, NC for a continuation of President Obama’s Rural Listening Tour. Over 600 of our concerned citizens took time from their day to participate, ask questions and tell members of the Administration as well as myself, what Washington can and should be doing for our rural communities.
Some of the press in attendance seemed almost shocked at the civility and respect shown by attendees.
Civility and respect rule at bipartisan town hall meeting
Breaking a pattern of raucous encounters across the country, more than 600 people Monday attended a town hall meeting marked by civility, substance and even bipartisanship.
Having lived in North Carolina’s 8th District all my life and knowing the struggles facing our working families, I wasn’t surprised at all that folks in attendance came not to disrupt, but to speak their mind, learn and listen for ways to improve the lives of their families. After all, these are hard working, resilient folks that were knee deep in the recession long before much of the nation, and they need solutions not partisan bickering. I for one am encouraged by the perseverance of all our hard working families and believe that rural America may well be the bellwether of economic recovery and political sanity as well.
As it was part of the Rural Listening Tour and taking place at a local community college with hundreds of Early College 9, 10 and 11th graders listening in from the overflow auditorium, it was to be expected that many of the questions would center on education and readying our children for the jobs of tomorrow, not just the next test. What wasn’t as expected, however, but proved the most uplifting was the uproarious applause of many of those young students spilling out into the halls in response to the serious efforts of those town hall attendees working to improve their lives.
I just wanted to share that with you, and take a moment to thank the next generation for their hope and optimism and their parents for all their hard work teaching the rewards of civility and respect to young and old alike.