Last night I went to the town hall meeting of my congressman, Leonard Lance. Unlike, the summer town hall meetings of 2009, this was rather tame by comparison.
First of all, I want to say that I like Leonard Lance very much. When I was on Borough Council in Flemington, he was always extraordinarily helpful getting us much-needed financial support from the state for roads and other municipal projects. Back then, State Sen. Lance would have no problem getting “earmarks” for those in his district. But now, Congressman Lance toes the Republican line against such earmarks. Oh, what a difference a few years and a larger district makes.
I expected that there would be many Tea Party people taking the Congressman to task on his Cap and Trade vote––but I guess that issue is mostly over since the June primary. Back then, three separate Tea Party candidates failed to garner even a majority of the vote to oust Lance. So there were conservative Tea Party people there at the Town Hall meeting, who had only supportive questions for the congressman. The only time I heard them peep or squawk was when a Democrat got up to ask a question and expressed support for Obama,––then there were boos and hisses. They were rude bunch to say the least.
There's no question about it---after seeing him last night---Congressman Lance is very different from State Sen. Lance. State Sen. Lance is the person who bucked his own party by voting against a pension bond scheme by then Gov. and family friend Christie Todd Whitman. He also was the person as Sen. Lance to sue then Governor Jim McGreevy over borrowing money for the state without voter approval.
I got a chance to ask him if he had to do it over again, would he support Cap and Trade this time around. His answer: "No, I would not.” His answer, however, did not surprise me––because he flip-flopped on this issue mostly under pressure from the right wing of his party. What did surprise me is his reason for flip-flopping on the issue: He said that the reason why he would not vote for Cap and Trade again is because “the Obama administration did a poor job of negotiating in Copenhagen”, and he wasn't willing to take on the responsibility for the United States to deal with this issue alone. Of course, the follow-up question I should've asked had I thought of it would have been, “so Congressman, had the Obama administration negotiated successfully in Copenhagen then you would still be supporting Cap and Trade?”
And so, Congressman Lance “yada yada yada’d” his way through questions about his “no” votes on job creation, consumer protection against Wall Street's schemes, and his switch on Cap and Trade. I believe that he is still one of the few Republicans who was moderate in his heart, but has become conservative in his “political brain”.
As long as the seventh District has to have a Republican in Congress, I wish we had the old Leonard Lance back. He was a maverick, he was independent, and voted his own mind. Unfortunately, we may not see that Leonard Lance again for a while––if at all.