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.
”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.