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This evening Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D) held an open town hall in Kansas City on a campus of Metropolitan Community College. This town hall was reportedly one of the few open town halls, if not, the only, held by a member of Congress on the subject of American military action in Syria. The room was packed. The media presence was heavy, including a crew from ITN in Great Britain.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D) at his town hall on military intervention in Syria – held in Kansas City – September 5, 2013.

The town hall was scheduled to run from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. It went for close to two hours.

Representative Cleaver spoke for a few minutes and then stood and listened to comments, and sometimes questions, from people in the audience who waited in line to speak at the microphone.

Most of the time speakers stayed on the subject. Most of the time. At times some rambled, some were nervous, some were angry, some were introspective, some pleaded, some offered other solutions, some despaired of any solution, some pointed out the monetary cost, some pointed out the human cost, and on and on.

We heard from people who had lived in the region, from people who were from the region, and from people who had family and friends in the region.

We heard from veterans. We heard from pacifists. The two groups were not mutually exclusive.

The audience and speakers were diverse politically – we heard comments ranging from the lunatic fringe and paranoid right, to the activist left. We learned about a couple of conspiracy theories we had never encountered before. Representative Cleaver listened respectfully, occasionally offering a short answer or comment, but mostly listening.

Now that’s the real America.