“If we fall into despair, we concede. If we lose hope, we lose it all.” When Congress member Karen Bass spoke on Sunday, December 11, at Palms Middle School auditorium, she set the tone for the ongoing struggle to move the political conversation towards progress.
The town hall style meeting was heavily attended, and many in the crowd offered that this was the first time they had come to connect with Bass in a community setting. Bass was there to listen to her constituents, reflect on their concerns and offer what she can – and can’t – do to mitigate action, to propose and pass legislation, and keep the district’s priorities on the table.
“All of us are so very stressed,” she noted,”wondering what is going on, what is going to happen next, what can we do…I do these meetings all the time, and I’m very glad that all of you are here.”
Beginning with an update on current business in Washington D.C., she told the crowd that the incoming administration had the right to negate any action taken by the current President for 60 days before leaving office, and with that in mind, Congress adjourned last Thursday, extra early, to add more time onto those 60 days. The crowd groaned with displeasure.
Bass also noted the turmoil in the leadership of the Democratic party, the challenge that Nancy Pelosi faced from Tim Ryan. and the resolution of the leadership returning to Pelosi.
Then, she opened to questions, saying “I want a sense from voters of how you want to handle this, because we still have this other dilemma of actually running the government. We still have to govern.”
Taking ten questions at a time from the floor and then responding to each, she addressed concerns as diverse as Social Security fears and Standing Rock sovereignty. Most of the people who had come to the meeting talked about the incoming presidential administration. There was a low lying sense of panic pervading the community over hate crimes, financial fears and the possible loss of legal standing for civil rights.
People spoke out – an employee of Planned Parenthood, an undocumented ‘Dreamer’ learning to make documentaries in college, a member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, all were candid about how intimidating the election had been, and reached out to Bass for congressional support.
West Los Angeles College President Jim Limbaugh spoke briefly to the crowd, stating that “All of our students have been impacted by this election, and we are committed to keeping our campus safe and providing out students of color, our LGBTQ students, and all of our religious and ethnic minorities with what they need to be secure and continue their education in spite of these difficult challenges.”
Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz addressed the crowd in regard to local actions, and how he was taking on a redevelopment and eviction threat to a building housing the elderly. Koretz also remembered his days at Palms Middle School, and said ” The auditorium looks quite the same.”
With time running out for the meeting, Bass offered to stay as long as needed to address everyone’s concerns, and listen to her constituents. Almost an hour later, she was still taking notes, reflecting with more information and advising voters to stay connected.
“You can’t just run for office on election day; we have to stay in this every day and stay focused and committed to our priorities.”