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Sen. Warren packs ‘em in at Greenfield town hall

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to a packed auditorium during a town hall held at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren answers questions during a town hall that drew nearly a thousand people to Greenfield Middle School, Sunday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to a packed auditorium during a town hall at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to the overflow crowd in the gymnasium at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds line up for a town hall held by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Hundreds line up for a town hall held by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday, RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to a packed auditorium during a town hall held at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks to a packed auditorium during a town hall at Greenfield Middle School on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



For the Gazette
Sunday, November 12, 2017

GREENFIELD — That wasn’t a rock concert at Greenfield Middle School Sunday afternoon.

Instead, the lines of people snaking around the building and the palpable excitement in the crisp air were a sign of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s town hall-style forum inside the school. From the reception she received, it would be hard to tell the difference.

Warren started the town hall in the packed overflow room, the school’s basement gymnasium, which roared as she entered. As a man came to the podium to ask the first question, she reached out to shake his hand.

“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Warren,” she said, jokingly, as if there were a possibility that someone in the room might not know who she is.

There and in the auditorium, where she went next, Warren took questions ranging from food insecurity, global arms sales, Citizens United, the future of the Democratic party, how to get involved in political activism and local issues like broadband access.

The crowd, estimated at just under a thousand, offered the nationally famous Massachusetts senator a warm reception, with friendly questions and multiple standing ovations. She answered questions for about an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon. It was one of 16 town halls Warren has done since the election.

Warren was introduced by Greenfield Mayor William Martin, who asked Warren to talk about veterans’ health care and student loan debt.

Warren touched on those topics and more. In her answers, she covered the broad idea of moving back to a time when government worked for everyone, before the 1980s and the election of Ronald Reagan. She broke down different ways government can get back to helping the majority of Americans through regulation, investment in research, and investment in opportunity through progressive taxation.

On a question about what people in progressive states can do about gun control, Warren said that the U.S. Congress is held hostage by the gun lobby and the NRA, and that many Americans — including gun owners — want more regulations on the purchase of firearms and background checks.

She added that the narrative that says the aftermath of a tragedy is not the time to talk about gun control policy is incorrect, and that beyond mass shootings, gun violence continues to kill people across the country every day.

“Today is the right day to talk about gun control,” she said as the crowd cheered.

The senator fielded several questions from the crowd on what they could do to create change and move progressive policies forward. Warren recommended that those interested in getting involved should join organizations, talk to those who think differently than they do, and consider becoming a more active participant in politics.

“You’re young, you’re strong, run for office!” Warren said when asked by one young woman how to get involved.

She said that President Donald Trump has attacked ideas central to the democratic foundations of the country, like an independent judiciary, the voting system and an independent, free press.

She said there’s a lot Democrats can do despite the current administration, and pointed to the example of the possible health care repeal.

“The point is, we didn’t have any more votes in the Senate, we didn’t have any more votes in the House, the difference was you,” Warren said. “The difference was every single person who said, ‘I am in this fight, I am in it all day.’”

She said that they were able to get the message out that health care is a basic human right and it became more personal for many Americans.

“We had a five-week conversation in this country about pre-existing conditions,” she told the crowd.

She added that everyone who posted about it, went to rallies, talked with family and friends and called their elected officials contributed to that. Warren said that while progressive Democrats have to pick and choose their battles and some will be lost, that shouldn’t stop anyone from entering the fight.

“We can’t fight at every front at the same moment — I understand that,” she said. “Getting into these fights, it’s not like a battery; it doesn’t drain you, like you only have so much fight in you. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it is.”