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‘Dean Phillips’ Big Blunder’: How a Town Hall went Horribly Wrong in N.H.

At a time of intense political engagement and interest in politics, Dean Phillip’s town hall in New Hampshire drew widespread attention for its controversial tone. On the night of October 26th, residents of Manchester packed a town hall to hear Phillips talk about a number of issues, but what they got was something else entirely. Phillips, a libertarian, began his town hall by attacking the New Hampshire Democratic Party and its platform. He accused them of promoting a “radical” agenda and said that it was “un-American” to “force your point of view on other people.” This kind of rhetoric is unhelpful and inflammatory, and it put many of the town hall attendees on edge. Things only got worse when Phillips began to attack members of the audience. He interrupted an attendee who tried to discuss a topic he hadn’t planned to address and then repeatedly insulted her. Later, Phillips argued with an attendee who had asked him a question and then called her “insignificant” when she tried to explain her point. By the end of the town hall, many of the attendees were visibly angered and frustrated. Many spoke up in the hall to express their discontent, and some felt that Phillips had “gaslit” them throughout the night. It’s understandable that a town hall can be a charged and tense atmosphere, but Dean Phillips crossed the line with his comments. Disregarding the feelings of the attendees and intentionally insulting those in disagreement isn’t an effective way to have a meaningful conversation. While the chaotic night created a buzz of interest in New Hampshire politics, it also shows that we should be mindful of our words and disagreements. We should strive for productive dialogue in order to move towards solutions. Without respect and understanding, the debate can quickly turn into an unpleasant shouting match, just as it did at Dean Phillips’ town hall.