High Country Forward, a grass roots community group, sponsored a Tea and Cookies event on King Street on Saturday that reminded me why I love living in Boone. Nearly one hundred people filled F.A.R.M. Café and patiently listened for two hours as citizens spoke with civility, passion, and concern about the issues facing the nation, state, and high country.
Before the meeting, attendees socialized with tea and cookies. The lack of civility in the last election cycle was a common conversational theme. Boone residents lamented the lack of a moderate voice to speak for the high country. Democrats, independents, one disillusioned Republican, and a Libertarian all spoke with me. A retired teacher, a physician, an Iraq war veteran, a Vietnam veteran, a high school student, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, grandfathers, fathers, and sons addressed the crowd about education, health care, jobs, and national security.
Unfortunately, they had to speak to a photograph of Virginia Foxx as she declined to attend the meeting.
If she had attended, Ms. Foxx would have learned that high country citizens depend on the ACA to cover them, that many people with chronic conditions could not be treated without the ACA, that some people will die or go bankrupt if it is repealed. She would have heard that parents are concerned that their special needs children will not receive the education and care they deserve if The Every Child Succeeds Act is repealed. She would have seen that citizens care about educating all children. She would have discovered that people have questions about the voucher system. She would have understood that Boone citizens care that hungry children get a nutritious meal in school—maybe their only meals of the day. She would have noticed that her constituents want her to be a representative for the entire high country, not just the ones who nod and agree. Her constituents want to hear a public statement not just of what she supports, but why she supports it.
Virginia Foxx gave HFC the vaguest of statements which were printed and distributed to attendees and read aloud. She has an entire office in Washington, DC. Surely some of her staffers can research the issues and provide her with facts that go beyond the ideological talking points she e-mailed. Representative Foxx has said that she prefers to answer each e-mail and question she receives individually. That seems like an inefficient use of her time and tax-payer funds. She could have answered 100 citizens, taken follow-up questions, and gotten to know some people who care about her positions.
High Country Forward is a group of local citizens who began meeting after the November election. We are non-partisan and care about the future of the high country and its residents. None of us are professional politicians. We all live and work here, send our kids to school here, own our homes here, pay taxes here, belong to churches here, and want to make the high country the best it can be for everyone. Someone will probably claim that the event was a partisan stunt. Although an emerging Democratic opponent of Foxx spoke briefly at the end of the meeting, HCF reiterated that she was there as a citizen, had not been invited and that the meeting was not a campaign event. As one of the organizers of the event, I know that is true.
I have never been prouder to be an American or to call North Carolina home than I was on Saturday.