Demonstrators at Congressman John Faso’s home ask him to oppose Trump’s plans

(Photo by Jeremiah Horrigan)

Roughly 1,000 people protested outside Republican congressman John Faso’s Kinderhook office and home last Saturday. If the mood that had driven the crowd to the congressman’s doors was grim, the protest itself was a peaceful, even buoyant affair. The protest was roughly ten times the size of a similar rally outside Faso’s Kingston office the week before.

Carrying signs that referred to the conservative Republican as “One-Term Faso,” the crowd cheered lustily as speaker after speaker condemned the GOP’s threat to repeal Obamacare without providing an alternative plan.

President Donald Trump was a frequent target of the crowd’s ire; Annamaria Assevero, a medical doctor, drew wild cheers when she described the president as clearly and manifestly “diagnosable” as mentally ill.

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​”It’s winter in America,” she said, “and it’s cold and dark and scary.”​

While the rally had been called to protest the threatened repeal of Obamacare and Faso’s failure to either condemn the effort or provide a suitable alternative healthcare plan, there were plenty of other issues protesters were only too happy to raise publicly and individually.

A sign carried by Paige Orloff Smith of Spencertown was particularly timely; Trump had issued his executive order barring entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries the day before. Smith Orloff chose the words of Republican icon Ronald Reagan from 1981 to provide a bit of historical perspective: “We shall continue America’s tradition as a land that welcomes those who flee oppression.”

Smith Orloff said she was no stranger to mass protests, having marched with her mother as a child in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. She said she was cheered by the event. Looking around at the crowd, she said “there are lots of people not being represented by Faso” and that the size of the crowd should make that clear to him.

The crowd marched from outside Faso’s office to his stately home a few blocks away to the tune of “Wade in the Water” and “We Shall Overcome,” provided by Tin Horn Uprising, a band that describes itself as “an activist brass marching band providing the soundtrack for the revolution.”

​Gianni Ortiz, one of the organizers of the rally, echoed the statements of other speakers and participants when she said Sunday’s event was “only the beginning.”

Later, Faso came out to meet the protesters. In one interaction, captured on video (below), a resident tells the congressman that she was being treated for a brain tumor and a spinal condition and, before the passage of the ACA, was denied coverage because of that pre-existing condition.

“I need you as a human being to promise we will not take this away from you,” she said through tears.

“I promise, I promise,” said Faso, embracing her.


 


 

There are 34 comments

  1. Don T

    It is a disgrace that these whiners would show up at the Congressman’s home. Act like adults, not like spoiled children who didn’t get their way. Why don’t these 1,000 people with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon volunteer at a hospital or home for the elderly? Why don’t they volunteer their time to teach refugees English. Or even better, why don’t they open their homes and take in a refugee family to live with them and help them become adjusted to their new country?

    1. Drea

      I go out on Friday nights and feed the homeless. I also volunteer with a local soup kitchen in my days off.
      I love this country and our constitutional right to assemble, and our obligation to hold elected officials accountable.
      You can do both. You can be a good kind caring person who stands up for those convictions and ideals and acts on them in your daily life; or you can be the kind of person that just complains about them on the internet.

      I encourage you to go, get involved and be the best version of your self, donating your free time and extra resources to the groups you feel most passionately about- make sure your time is completely well spent, before judging others from your computer. I don’t know you, but I bet you’re actually a better person than that.

    2. Elizabeth

      Well, the refugees have been banned, so it’s hard for us to take them in at the moment. But seriously, not everyone agreed with marching to Faso’s home; many who protested outside the office elected not to take that step, and I can appreciate your upset at it. That said–protest isn’t whining, it’s a right of free speech enshrined in our Constitution. So let’s stop the name calling and work together for a better district and a better country.

    3. Catherine Joyner

      It is not a “disgrace” that people want their representatives to represent them. These people that wait out in the cold obviously think it is important to get their message heard and I applaud them!

    4. Peter P.

      I assume you had the exact same response to the Tea Party protests.

      But these people are doing God’s work. Any effort to save the healthcare of 20 million people puts more good into the world than anything you listed. Those are all lovely, but these protests have the chance to save a huge number of lives.

    5. Lea Cullen Boyer

      Wow!! Embarrassed that we elected a Representative who is not able to talk with his constituents during this contentious and alarming series of events. All anyone has asked for is to meet with him in an open forum. He’s not willing to do this.

      A leader needs to hear what his constituents want, vote to move forward his constituents expressed needs and beliefs and to help his constituents navigate changes.

      Don’t know who he considers his constituents. If he is not meeting with us just wonder who he is meeting with before casting votes.

  2. Chris

    It is a disgrace that a whiner would click through to this article just to complain about citizens exercising their first amendment rights. Act like an adult instead of a spoiled child who calls others names when they don’t agree with them. Why don’t you try to accept that for millions of fellow Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, lobbying their elected official is just as noble and impactful as community service like volunteering at a hospital or a home for the elderly? Or even better, why don’t you go down to meet some of these people and understand why they feel so upset and angry about the new direction our country has suddenly gone in?

    Pretty easy to be a smug contrarian who literally adds nothing to the conversation, isn’t it?

  3. David

    Many of us spend hours volunteering after a hard day at work. Regardless, we feel that standing up for our rights and the rights of the more vulnerable among us is worthwhile. We are horrified to have a president who blames our nations economic troubles on the most vulnerable people in this nation, and to not stand up for immigrants, refugees, minorities and women is a moral crime. Please try to remember: the First Amendment applies to liberals as well as the Tea Party.

  4. Matt

    Why would your congressman vote to repeal Obamacare without being sure that a replacement was ready and waiting? I’ll tell you why- because he must vote in lockstep with the Republican leadership or be branded disloyal. No thinking needed; no independence allowed. Hey, that’s kind of like how you think voters should act. Just do what you’re told and be quiet. That may be OK for you and Faso but the rest of us live in a democracy with free speech and assembly. Does that bother you? Didn’t bother your congressman. He came out and made promises (he won’t keep).

  5. Upstate

    So Don T your advice to these people who fear having their health insurance taken away or who fear for refugees rights is to go do a good deed rather than protest? Please read up on the history of this nation and how things get accomplished.

  6. Eve Fox

    Faso is our representative but thus far his voting record is the exact opposite of my views. And his assurances about the ACA are nowhere near enough. I’m so glad people are calling, visiting, protesting and more. Unless Faso does a huge about-face, he’s likely to be a one-term Congressman.

  7. Catherine Joyner

    I think these people should be applauded for taking time standing out in the cold to have their voices heard!!! The world is a very scary place and we need to make sure our representatives are willing and able to represent us! I do think they are more like demonstrators then protestors. I thought the article was well written and a great read, happy to share

  8. Delilah Praete

    Mr. Horrigan, Thank you so much for covering the demonstration at Rep Faso’s house.

    Also, the assumption that folks who are on the left don’t volunteer work or good works is a reflection of a lack of association with folks who have a different point of view. there are many folks on the left who give back a great deal. Let’s assume that everyone in this country wants the US to be successful and wants American citizens all the be successful and healthy.

    And finally, let’s also remember that freedom of assembly is extremely American and represents an active and involved electorate and that is a good thing.

  9. Erik

    Dear Congressman Faso,

    It doesn’t matter what you do. These left-wing fanatics will never vote for you because you are a Republican. Do not pander to them. Do not be nice to them. You do what you think is right. And if it makes them mad, don’t lose sleep over it.

    And you left-wing stormtrooper fascists, leave the man, his wife, and his kids alone in their home.

  10. Lin Sakai

    Thank you for your coverage of our fellow citizens exercising their most basic of rights: freedom of speech. Regardless of one’s personal political views, civilized public demonstrations like this show “what democracy looks like”. It also underscore the how public meeting spaces continue to dwindle, leaving only the streets for open assembly.

  11. CT Dover

    I have always been against showing up at someone’s home, and after the Berkeley and NYU riots, my stand is even stronger on it. This pattern of protests scheduled every day, everywhere, is going to lead to the opposition doing the same thing. That will very quickly escalate to violence in this climate, and then the powers that be (it would have been the same response regardless of party) will have the excuse they have been seeking to clamp down on everyone’s rights. The stupidity or naivety of this tactic is astounding.

    It’s not a way to win a war, but a few brief battles.

    A politician who begins to cater to this will definitely be a one-term politician, and should be. This “strategy” is the equivalent of a 3-year-old having a tantrum in the grocery store. Any Mom who changes her behavior because of it isn’t worth the title, and neither will a Congressman be worthy of it.

  12. Mike P

    Waaaa! Lets demonstrate! Waaa! Let’s light property on fire! Waaa! Let’s break some windows! Waaa! Let’s make every one who is trying to drive anywhere miserable! Waaa! Resist! Waaa! Become Ungovernable. Waaa!
    Obstruct! Waa!
    As your now departed hero once arrogantly stated: “Elections have consequences”. Put on your big boy and big girl pants and get over it.

    1. Chris

      You’re confusing riots with protests. They are not the same.

      None of what you’ve listed happened at the demonstration in question, or the vast majorities of demonstrations across the country since the inauguration. You’re purposely spreading misinformation into this comment section to dishonestly color the debate rather than bring any kind of substantial argument. Faso felt comfortable enough with this demonstration that he actually came out and spoke to the crowd and embraced a woman who was afraid to lose her ACA coverage – something I applaud him for.

      This stands in contrast to Tea Party rallies from 2008-2010 when many Conservative protesters would show up brandishing rifles spouting rhetoric of violent revolution as a not-so-subtle show of intimidation.

      Also. Something tells me that not only did you never ‘get over’ Obama after 2008, but judging by your juvenile and angry response – you’re still not ‘over it’. I’ll go one further and imagine that when ‘your hero’ Trump inevitably gets caught in a crisis he can not recover from, you’ll pull off the insane mental gymnastics needed to pin it to Obama and Democrats. You’ll keep chugging that Kool Aid, even when a hack reality tv show host in a cheap suit and a bad haircut dumps rat poison into it right before your eyes, simply because they’ve masterfully trained you to hate liberals above all else. You’re just a pawn to them and you can’t see it. I feel sorry for you.

      Assembling in public to present a show of support or dissent is as American as apple pie. Love it or leave it.

  13. Jojo

    I’m alone and battling cancer. My fiancé left whe he found out…what am I going to do? There are so many haters who say I should get a job, even my family…how can I work and support myself when I’m fighting for my life? I’ve worked my entire life since I was fifteen and like the girl in the video, I lost it all and no one wanted me anymore. I could no longer perform my job ! They fired me for it! How awful. CEO’s who destroy lives and pay no mind to doing it. It’s not the poor who is the enemy all you who hate, it’s the leaders and rich elites, they are the criminals!

    1. Chris

      Dear Conservative Hypocrites:
      Please view the following video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixi9_cciy8w

      That’s your boys Reagan and Bush. Defending Immigrants. Dismissing the idea of a wall.

      But none of this matters. This clip was from 1980. The clip you provide is 1995. It is 2017. The world changes. Politics, in general, has changed. What everyone in these videos were doing was an ancient and forgotten practice known as being ‘moderate’, ‘compromising’ or ‘reaching across the aisle’.

      Reagan and Bush knew during that primary that they needed to appeal to all voters, not just their bases. Clinton in ’95 was going into a re-election year and he also knew that he had to appeal to a wide base of Americans. If you continue to watch the clip of Clinton he goes on to advocate for classic liberal economic mainstays: middle class values, being part of the globalized economy. Reagan went on to become a deregulating conservative legend. But these clips both demonstrate that at some point in the not so distant past, that middle ground, moderate voters were the prize every candidate wanted to appeal to. It kept us on center, it kept us feeling like we belong together. This began to rapidly deteriorate post 9/11 and has continued to ever since.

      You will never create an honest, productive dialogue with others by opening a discussion with an accusation or an insult. Everyone is terrified of the other and we will disintegrate as a country if we don’t find ways to speak to one another. It is dishonest and ignorant for the right to demand cooperation and ‘coming together’ now when we all clearly remember the last 8 years where conservatives did no such thing for a democratic president.

      It is also dishonest to call liberals hypocrites when voters and officials on both sides are clearly rotten with it. Instead, try asking questions, try to have a respectful dialogue. Cherry picking 20 year old or 36 year old snippets of individual speeches is a dangerously narrow minded way to demonstrate any one persons ideology. Clinton’s views on immigration was not defined by that speech. Reagan’s neither by his. Conservative and Liberal voters should not be so easily dismissed as hypocrites to be ignored when the reality is that opinions change from one person to the next and are not blanketed uniformly across the entire population.

      I compel you to ask that question next time you post – what is your intent? Are you simply trying to attack and disparage the other ‘team’ that you hate or are you looking to accomplish something more constructive? If it is the former, then thats pretty scary. What is the inevitable outcome of that thinking? You honestly want to do away and eradicate ~50% of this country?

      Human society is complex. Accusations like that are not.

  14. LL-12446

    Thank you to all of the individuals who demanded Congressman Faso both hear them… and SEE them. If our representative is too cowardly to hold in-person town halls, meet face-to-face with his constituents, and refuses to publish his schedule, then what choice do his constituents have but stand in front of his house and call him out?

  15. Your Local Assessor

    $485,000 is the actual and real market-value of the red brick house outbuilding and land in the photo. At 3% tax rate per $1000 that would be $15,000 in total annual taxes. That is $15000 before exemptions

  16. Lea Cullen Boyer

    Come on John…. Why are you not willing to meet or even make a statement? What are you afraid of? We are civilized and if you set up the town hall and send our a notice to your fans, we can have a real live discussion. Why would you abandon the peopel who elected you?

  17. Columbia, Goddess of Liberty

    investigate trump’s russian ties
    he is the one who is a fascist–he is just like mussolini, condemning the press
    he is a liar
    he doesn’t release his taxes, doesn’t divest his business interests
    i hope Sweden sues him

  18. Ansi Vallens

    Faso is a politician to his core. Trump supporters will soon become disillusioned. And they’ll have nothing but contempt for a political toady like Faso.

  19. liz rosenberg

    Didn’t anyone notice what a sweet and touching moment this was? Both sides should lay down their anger for a minute and watch Faso at his best, and a constituent at her most vulunerable.

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