Civility and respect still matter in small towns

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.


Thank you, Larry

I heard back from a friend that the crowd was amazing, had good questions and while they didn't all agree, were respectful. Awesome.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Amazing how that can happen

Amazing how that can happen when protesters are not bused in by the special interests.


Education is another important issue here in the US today.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

This is great

Larry, I think this shows the respect the home folks have for you and their sense that you trying to do the best job you can, whether they agree with you on the issues or not. Congrats and keep up the good work!

I hope you will considerer that civility and "respect"

don't necessarily imply agreement. Congress has very low approval ratings...and well earned I might add. Many of us feel Congress is totally out of touch with the realities of life in America. On average, you're wealthy and paid 3X the median income of a typical family of four. You have 40+ Fee-for Service Health Insurance options available and WE pay 70+ percent of your premiums. There has been NO significant change in agricultural subsidies with most payments going to large corporate farmers rather than family farms. Rural Families are having to fight to stay alive. The graduation rates in NC high schools is abysmal.
Talk is nice. Doing something meaningful would be better.

BTW...where is your pledge to support a public option? Why did you not support the energy bill?

The last thing I expected from you was "politics as usual" and when you last called for more money I complied and simply requested you not becone a "Blue Dog."

Stan Bozarth


Mr. Kissell,
I voted for you as the progressive alternative to the former 4th richest man in Congress, the grandson and heir of the man who kept all the other hands who helped him off the lion's share of the money made here. You know the history. This is where the governor called in the state militia to smite the unions, an action that was the twentieth century equivalent of cracking the whip on nineteenth century field hands. The story of this town is a sad, bloody testament to the south's rulers making laws to benefit themselves and their own.

Some good things are beginning to happen here now but we still need a liberal voice in Congress who can help move us forward and further away from that history.

That's why a lot of us voted for you and that's also why some of us are puzzled and dissappointed by your vote on cap and trade, which seemed to be more in line with conservative opposition than progressive moving forward to tackle real environmental problems.

And I, also, would like to know where you stand on a true, government-managed alternative to private health insurance.

Robert Brown

Larry Kissell is an excellent congressman

I think there is a misconception about Congressman Kissell. He's not a "progressive" as in "liberal-turned-progressive". He's a moderate. Yes, he holds some liberal beliefs near and dear, but overall, he's a moderate and is just an EXCELLENT congressman as a result.

It's telling (to me, anyway) that Congressman Kissell posts and

runs. Not even returning to answer questions. I'm really trying to be thoughtful about the complexities of the decisions a congress-person faces. OTOH when the votes are cast the reasons explaining those votes ought to bear some resemblance to the realities faced by both the district and the nation.
Candidly, I don't buy Kissell's energy bill vote explanation. If there's someone who could factually corroborate his reasoning I'd be grateful to hear/read it. I certainly don't understand Kissell's seeming lack of position on a public option and so on.

Larry has a forum here. He COULD explain or engage. Where is he?

Stan Bozarth

Kissell disagrees with your point of view...get it?

I just don't get it when someone trashes a politician because he/she doesn't agree with their personal point of view but votes what his/her district/state majority believes. Larry Kissell represents the 8th district. He should vote THEIR conscience in congress....not the democratic line. I admire him for his dedication to what his constituents believe in majority.

Trashing someone implies baseless undeserved criticism.

1. Kissell didn't hang around or come back and still hasn't.
2. I've read Kissell's comments on the energy bill and the supposed impact on his district. No where was there a "for example" that would add substance to his vote. The cost of controlling carbon emissions per KWH would add what to the average 8th district person's power bill? What jobs would be shipped overseas? And, by the way, it is Congress itself that passes the laws that make offshore business more profitable than if US based. There's more..H1B visas and such...but....goodness who would want to get into the details. It's just so much easier to say meaningless stuff.
3. The 8th district has received more than $184 Million in Farm subsidies since 1996. Care to guess who the money goes to? REALLY big businesses is the answer. I own a 160 acre farm in another state. We grow wheat and graze cattle. We get a USDA commodities subsidy. @ $200/year. Lots of 8th district "farmers" have gotten $millions. There is a database if you're interested in FACTS.
4. What IS Kissell's stance on a public option? Ain't on his web site? He didn't come back to answer.

What is the 8th district's conscience? Even assuming Kissell's vague criticism of the energy bill has some slim factual basis, one has to wonder if what might be good for a few ought to take precedence over the welfare of the nation. Titan Cement is going to bring 160 jobs to Wilmington. The politicians, without taxpayer knowledge or approval, used our tax monies to incent Titan. I suspect those jobs will not come close to being worth the environmental damage caused. To my knowledge......

Like I said, talk is nice.....where's the beef?

Stan Bozarth

I sometimes wonder if being a member of congress...

...leaves less time to blog and deal with crazy people since a half million people with real problems call daily.

Then I get over it and scream real loud since I have Internet access and also hung the moon.

Being a member of the House

is at least 50% about fundraising. It's no wonder they don't have time to do their jobs.

It truly is a shitty job now

Which is why I think the Founding Father's limited it to two years so the Gentleman Farmer up next could get back to harvesting crops, then tagging the next sucker to be screamed at.

Don't want to argue with you on this, stan

I think you and I are on the same page on most things, stan. I am a Kissell supporter and being a moderate, I feel like he does on some issues that you may not think are appropriate. No congressperson will be exactly the person I want in office or who you would like to see in office.

I do agree that hopefully Larry will come back here and give us a more in-depth explaination on both his health care stance AND why he voted as he did on cap and trade.

I would bet that he has polled his district and finds that the majority there believe as he voted. I could be wrong here and if I am, I will admit my mistake on it.

I don't like to post much here

since I don't live in NC anymore or in the 8th district. However, as a native and someone who did live there for decades of my life, I really feel compelled to today.

Congressman Kissell posted an intelligent and interesting account of an event that counters what we have seen happening across the country in terms of debate and civility. North Carolinian's should be proud.

Even though I have worked (as a volunteer!) for him and mostly agree with his stances on issues- I know that we will not always agree. The 8th district is not blue and the Congressman has to not only be true to himself but vote in Congress to represent ALL his constituents.

I have seen comments on this website after the Energy vote that were just as bizarre and crazy as what we see out there in some of these town hall meetings on health care. IF you really want Congressman Kissell to hang around and stay and discuss things then WE need to be as civil as the meeting he described to us today. Saying things like you'll never vote for him again or demonizing his motives on ONE vote does not create an atmosphere in which he should be expected to hang around.

I know many people in and around the 8th expected MORE from him- but really folks this district is SO tough in the geography and competing business interests- please cut him some slack and be civil. He's trying really hard to represent all the people in the 8th. At this point in his tenure I'd give him a B+. And having said all that- people were civil today. That makes me happy.

See above....

Civil disagreement usually involves some discussion of facts and the interpretation thereof.

Stan Bozarth

Stan is being civil kevJ

Kissell has been a regular poster here since 2006 and so has Stan who by the way worked for and donated to Congressman Kissell as many of us here did. During the 2006 and 2008 Campaigns, Mr. Kissell posted here regularly and always stuck around to answer questions. It is not out of line for Stan to expect Congressman Kissell to at least peak in after a post and join discussions or answer direct questions because that was what he always did before he was elected. Besty Muse was going by The Southern Dem at that time and helped bring his campaign national attention with her diaries here and cross-posted at Kos and MyDD.

You say that the 8th district is not blue, but it is solidly purple, leaning to blue. Check out this Statistic 2007 report from the NC State Board of Elections. It breaks down the 8th Congressional District this way:

Total Voters: 388,705
Registered Dems: 190,227
Registered Reps: 117,671
Unafiliated: 80,807

Changes in the 8th

I'm a new poster and I'm aware that so far I'm way out on lonely left base in the 8th. I also realize that those who take a more moderate approach are doing a good service for the majority of constituents here. But I think it's also important that liberals use voices as well as votes. There are plenty of people who take up the cause of moderation and plenty more who defend conservative principles. Liberals are a minority in the country and a smaller minority in the south. If we don't speak out then nothing gets heard and some of the progressive changes we need won't have a chance. The demographics of the 8th are changing with the build out of the NC Research Campus. I think it's important that elected leaders are aware of the changes, even though they admittedly aren't significant yet. In time they will be.


You're from the future and have a point after 2010?


No, I'm very much in the present - but admittedly a minority. My point is that conservatives and moderates have plenty of voices - I'll add they also have plenty of money. Liberals at least have votes and voices. For a long time in the 8th liberal voices were marginalized, ridiculed and mocked. I think that's changing here now and I think the changes will be more significant in the future.


That's a pretty mocking tone. So what if I'm a left-leaning liberal and don't stand a chance of getting elected? I know that. I'm not running for office. I never will. Dennis Kucinich wouldn't stand a chance in this state, either. I don't think that means I can't ask questions or state views on message boards, though - especially here. Good grief.

Best to ignore Megatron

I try my best to steer clear, though I sometimes can't resist. For some reason, some people think smart-assy sarcasm is an attractive or productive way to engage. I know ... I used to be one of them.

There's nothing smart assy or sarcastic there

though we might disagree about what "smart assy" means. I try to reserve my ire for disengaged politicians who lie - or who profit personally from their public service. I don't always succeed, but I'm working on it. McIntrye isn't part of this community, has never bothered to communicate with us despite many requests ... so I'm much less concerned about being nice to him nowadays. For interactions with the people who write or post here, however, I think the benefit of the doubt is in order. As I wrote on another post, one of the intentions here is building community. Sarcasm and mocking seem not entirely aligned with that intention.

Welcome, Robert

Pardon my manners for not officially greeting you. Very nice to see your reasoned voice and clear writing.

Thanks, James

Thanks - I've been looking around for an idjit book for Stan. Everyone else will just have to suffer through.

A little confused

Thanks - no, I figured it was some sort of rite of passage - haze the new guy:)

I never said he wasn't-

as a matter of fact I said that this discussion had been civil and that made me happy. However, I DO recall many negative and outrageous comments following the energy vote and I am just saying that if you all expect Mr. Kissell to hang around like he used to then people need to be respectful.

As for the 8th being purple- I hope that you are right. Prior to 2008, the last democrat to carry it for President was Carter. Last year, Kissell ran 3 points ahead of Obama, who only got 52% there thanks in large part to a heavy black vote in Richmond, Scotland and Anson counties. Sorry, but in 2010 that will not happen.

Mr. Kissell is a Congressman because many people here worked

their asses off for him and gave him money. Actions speak louder than words and deserve more respect. If Kissell can't stand the heat from people who intrinsically support/supported him then he has no business being a public official. If he can't find the time for us now, I can assure him we won't find the time for him in 2010. He might want to think about that. Folks here are smart enough and adult enough to understand they may not agree with every vote he makes....but it would be nice to understand his reasons...factually.

Stan Bozarth

Possibly a catch-22, Stan

"If he can't find the time for us now, I can assure him we won't find the time for him in 2010."

Larry did receive a lot of support from progressives in the last election, and I believe that support and exposure helped him get even more support from the DCCC and others. I'm not happy with some of his votes either, but you need to keep a few things in mind: our main goal was to get rid of Robin Hayes first, and work on Larry's lack of Liberalism later. We knew he was moderate/conservative leaning, and changing those tendencies takes time and effort.

Luckily for us, Larry is a listener. I know this because he's listened to me babble on more than once. I arrived at the Joe Wilson event way early (caffiene), and I actually got one-on-one face time with Larry for about twenty minutes. We talked about free trade killing the manufacturing sector, we talked about education, and then I segued the conversation over to the environment, and talked about how bioaccumulation of methylmercury impacts the neurological functions of small children, making it that much harder for them to learn and retain what they are taught in school. I do tend to go on a little bit ;), but Larry drank it all in.

My point is, giving a politician support sometimes gives you access that others don't get, and you have to take advantage of that. A word here and there may not have an immediate effect, but it gets stored up there in the gray matter of the person you're talking to, and one day the brain might pull it out during a decision-making process.

The thing is, I don't want a politician to vote a certain way because of the real or perceived power of a certain group, I want him or her to vote that way because they believe and agree with it. It ain't the easiest route to progress, but it's the best route.

Well said

Larry does listen, and its why I have such a great amount of respect for him.

But he doesn't just listen to us, he listens to everyone. And sometimes that means he is going to vote in a way I don't like, but it won't be because he didn't listen to me.

"Keep the Faith"

My father died and we've been away

so I didn't get back to you.

I can easily agree with all you said. I'd like you to reexamine what I've said.

I'd like to actually understand Kissell's votes. I'd like to understand the basis for his words on not voting for the energy bill. It's easy to say something will have a negative impact or a positive impact. Where are the supporting facts? What IS his stance on a public option and WHY?

I don't live in his district. MY support wasn't predicated on district issues. Kissell knows that his decisions affect far more people than just those in the 8th.

Stan Bozarth

Thank you

Dad passed on the 7th. We had a service here and then flew him to OK for a graveside and interment. He lived with us for 6 years. He turned 92 on the 3rd. He was ready to go...wanted to go.

The night he passed I told Nan that Dad was dancing with mom and that I hoped they were having a good time. The next morning while we were eating breakfast Nan's computer (upstairs nook) started playing swing music from the 40's. We were both startled. Then a voice came on saying something as if it was being broadcast through a reverberation unit... echoing sort-of. I went up. There was nothing on her screen. No youtube..nothing. the voice kept going but I couldn't make it out. Had to restart the machine to stop it.

Really strange. I'm not making this up. Really.

Stan Bozarth


That's an amazing story. They are all still with us.