Indivisible group seeks dialogue

We had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Bill Shuster on March 3, and we learned a great deal about his viewpoints on a variety of issues.

As constituents of his district and members of Indivisible Blair County, we would like to let others know about who we are and our interest in having a public dialogue with the congressman.

Indivisible Blair County is a nonpartisan group of local citizens dedicated to peacefully holding our representatives accountable for supporting our civil rights, economic values and social and environmental concerns.

While we are a diverse group and may not agree on all issues, members do believe that to ensure a positive future for our country, we must challenge and reform the current administration’s agenda using a locally focused resistance strategy built on the values of inclusion, tolerance and fairness.

We strongly believe that decisions and policy should be fact and evidence-based. We currently have more than 500 members right here in Blair County and are growing every day.

The goal of our meeting was to understand Shuster’s position on the president’s potential conflicts of interest, possible campaign ties to Russia, the future role of the EPA, his ideas about climate change, the future of health care and his role in President Donald Trump’s trillion dollar infrastructure spending plan.

What was astounding about our meeting was Shuster’s assumptions about us.

We were immediately labeled as on “the other side of the aisle” before we could introduce ourselves.

Furthermore, we were repeatedly told that we believe “anything the New York Times tells (us)” and were associated with socialists.

We never mentioned the New York Times, and we are not socialists, but we do believe that some socialized institutions such as public education and health care are critical to our society’s success.

He seemed to use these deflections when we pushed him on answers he may not have had, such as what would happen to Americans who lose their health insurance with the Affordable Care Act repeal.

Disconcertingly, when we asked him to support a special prosecutor to ensure Trump’s campaign had not colluded with Russia, his repeated reply was just “trust me” without any evidence or facts.

He dismissed the fact that climate change scientists are in agreement that man-made climate change threatens our very way of life, stating “science is used and abused.”

Shuster felt a town hall was not valuable because he and Trump had won Blair County in November.

His implication that constituents do not, or should not, have concerns with the current administration doesn’t hold water with us. He repeatedly mentioned meeting with local businesses in his district.

What about his other constituents? We respect Congressman Shuster’s commitment to the area and his many years of service.

While he won his campaign for re-election, we believe that does not absolve him from addressing constituents’ concerns in a democratic and public manner.

We will continue to expect real, thoughtful, informed answers, not name calling, and we will aim to do the same.