By Aaron M.
On Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017, I attended a town hall meeting organized by the political organization Indivisible. The meeting was held at the First Unitarian church in Beechwold, a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. With over a thousand people in the audience, even the main room of the church was too small to hold everyone. I sat in an overflow space with around a hundred other people, watching a live Facebook feed of the event that was projected onto a large screen. The feed was about 45 seconds slow, so when we heard people cheering in the main room, we knew we would be doing the same thing very soon.
The subject of the town hall meeting was the Affordable Care Act. The meeting was for Ohio’s District 12, whose representative is Patrick Tiberi. Tiberi is instrumental in Donald Trump’s “repeal and replace” plan for the Affordable Care Act, and has been a longtime opponent of President Obama’s healthcare policy.
Representative Tiberi was not in attendance at the town hall meeting. Presumably, he was at some other event, or possibly he did not like the idea of facing thousands of angry ACA supporters. His absence caused a lot of publicity that Tiberi probably didn’t want. The organizers urged the attendees to use the hashtag #WheresPat on Twitter, and on the podium, occupying where Tiberi should have been, was a cardboard figure of him, which the organizers jokingly called “Flat Pat”.
The meeting was extremely well organized. Several people came to the podium and gave speeches about their positive experiences with the ACA, and what would happen to them if it were to be repealed. Many of the speeches were deeply emotional, and there was a lot of cheering and booing. There were also “action breaks,” intermissions for people to call their congresspeople or broadcast the event on Facebook or Twitter, using hashtags such as #SavetheACA.
Indivisible is a nationwide progressive group that was formed after Trump’s election as a nonpartisan way to resist the Trump agenda. At first, it was a guide of how to resist that was put online by former congressional staffers. The guide became immensely popular, and it has now been put into action by several groups. It is made up of small, local groups that curate events for local citizens to make a difference. One of Indivisible’s main principles is to get people to call their Senators and Representatives as constituents and pressure them in their policymaking.
The town hall meeting on February 22nd was focusing on Representative Tiberi, and he is largely the focus of Indivisible District 12. They also ask that people call the two Ohio Senators, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.