IM Members Met with US Rep. John Rutherford
Written by Ken Organes
On Thursday, March 21st members of Indivisible Mandarin attended a meeting at Representative John Rutherford’s office.
The meeting was generally cordial and featured some mutual agreement and also sharp, but polite, differences on women’s health issues and gun legislation.
Ken Organes opened the meeting by expressing thanks, on behalf of Indivisible Mandarin, for agreeing to meet with us and allow us to express our views. Ken spoke briefly about the plight of the farmers who are experiencing severe flooding in the Midwest and asked whether there was pending legislation to help them. Rep. Rutherford said that there was legislation in the works and that he would support it.
Karen introduced Indivisible Mandarin and spoke about our organization and its goals. She emphasized that we were there to open a dialogue and that, only through open, polite discourse, could progress be made. The representative agreed.
Larry Zwain thanked him for sponsoring a bill that helps to transition veterans back into civilian life, citing his son’s experience with PTSD. Larry then spoke about renewable energy and other environmental issues. Rep. Rutherford replied that he, too, is concerned about environmental issues and is co-sponsor on a bill that would forbid seismic petroleum exploration and drilling off the coast of Florida. He said that climate change and sea level rise are real and must be addressed but he’s not convinced that they’re caused by human activity.
He was amenable to considering Ted Centerwall’s proposal of an amendment to a bill advocating increased penalties for wounding or killing a police officer, that would stiffen the sentence if the weapon had not gone through a background check.
Rep. Rutherford said he is in favor of universal background checks but refused to consider any additional gun legislation. He said that he considers the Second Amendment to be the foundation of all other amendments to the Constitution. Marion Tischler, Karen Adler, Larry Zwain and others asked him about bans on assault weapons, registration of firearms and other potential gun legislation but he remained adamantly opposed.
He and Marion Tischler disagreed sharply, but politely, when the conversation turned to women’s access to healthcare including abortion. Marion took special exception with his depiction of abortions where the fetus was non-viable and terribly compromised as “infanticide.” Marion was supported in her position by Karen Adler, Dr. Philip Adler and others.
Dr. Sudhir Prabhu spoke on the negative effect of unfettered campaign finance money on our electoral process, and how it is shaping legislation. Dr. Prabhu stated that this is causing average Americans to be frustrated and feel left out of the process. Rep. Rutherford said that he agreed to some extent.
There are obviously deep philosophical differences between Rep. Rutherford and the members of Indivisible Mandarin. That being said, the main purpose of the meeting was to begin a dialog with the congressman, to express our views frankly and to open a line of communication. To that extend, the meeting was a success.