Debate Night At Bungalow Bar

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 A typical Monday night in Rockaway. About a dozen friends and new acquaintances gathered at the Bungalow Bar for cold drinks, good food and the main event on the big screen TV’s.

“It’s like Pacquiao vs Mayweather,” one man said. Like that title fight, two contenders took turns and traded jabs, trying to land a blow. The contest alternately earned the cheers or groans of the bar crowd.

In this case contenders were known as Trump and Clinton. The title fight was for the Presidency of the United States.

 The night was hosted by Mike Scala, a legislative aide to State Senator James Sanders and former Congressional candidate himself.

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met for their first debate, broadcast live from Hofstra University in Hempstead.

“It was a last minute thing,” Scala told the Rockaway Times during the event. “The idea was to get people together, get them talking. Get them talking about the issues.”

As the candidates sparred over the economy, trade, taxes, job creation, business and so on, the audience offered a running commentary.

“I wonder if there is a line on this in Las Vegas?” one person said.

But about 50 minutes in ‘party’ goers paid less attention to the debate and began talking amongst themselves.

 “They don’t feel that either candidate is really speaking to their needs, their concerns,” Scala observed. Conversations turned to transportation, how the travel time to Manhattan affects Rockaway’s economy, changes in population, mental health, non-profits, property values, the local economy and more.

After the debate, the discussion became even more lively.

“I don’t think they changed anyone’s mind about anything,” one woman said. “If people were going to vote for Trump, they’re still going to vote for Trump. If they were going to vote for Clinton, they are still going to vote for her.”

“This election is extremely important,” another said. “We have an empty seat on the Supreme Court. And this election affects all the other offices. On range of 1 to 5, this is a big 5.”

One man said, “Well the problem is if you don’t have a majority in Congress, you’re screwed. People looking from the outside (at the presidency) say ‘You didn’t get anything done!’ And you’re saying they didn’t let me get anything done.”

Another man added, “The problem is the real power is with the Congress. And Congress answers to the people with money.”

“What are they paying attention to? Are they paying attention to us? Or to big business?”

Others agreed that Congress, and every other elected position, needs to have term limits and turn over.

 “Our nation changes, the world changes. We need fresh ideas,” the man next to him offered. “It takes new eyes to see the things that don’t work.” “What concerns me, what affects us, more is our local politicians, our local elected offices,” Scala said.

“If the Fed can’t understand what happens at the local level, then we have a big problem,” another man added.

About watching the debate at Bungalow Bar, instead of an office or meeting room, one man said, “I think it’s a great location! We should do more of these.”

He said, “You get to meet people. People, right and left, sit down, have conversations.”

“It’s all about getting people to talk to each other. You might spark an idea,” he said.

“That’s what’s going to make things happen.”

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