Some residents blame Meadows, a Republican elected in 2012, for writing the original letter that suggested party leaders could kill President Obama’s signature health-care law by hobbling the federal government. More than 79 Republicans signed on to the Meadows missive in August, and by the time the shutdown began in October, Meadows had been labeled a chief architect of the strategy.
Yet on the day the shutdown ended, residents here seemed most disgusted by Washington writ large. “I think all those people in Congress are idiots,” Mike Tate, a 66-year-old retiree who voted for Meadows, said as he ate breakfast at a small coffee shop. “I feel they ought to be replaced.”
Peter Adams, 72, a Democrat sitting nearby, agreed.
“Our politics are terrible right now,” Adams said. “It is so sad.”
With the impasse over, at least temporarily — and with Republicans in Congress admitting defeat — people along Main Street here mostly said they want the same things out of Washington: more compromise, less posturing and an end to all of the bitterness that has divided the country in recent years.
“I’d like to see everyone act like more of grown-up,” Tate said.
Republicans expressed disbelief that Meadows — a former real estate developer who has been in office less than a year — was behind one of the biggest and most divisive political dramas in recent years.
“The whole thing was petty,” said Jim Foster, 74, a Meadows supporter. “But the real roadblock was in the Senate and with Obama.”
An economic hit
The shutdown came at a terrible time for many small businesses in Meadows’s largely rural district, which is heavily dependent on tourism in the autumn, when visitors come to see changing leaves. The $1-million-a-day loss estimate came from a study by economist Steve Morse at Western Carolina University.
Meadows’s strident stance on the shutdown does seem to have hurt him with some in the tourism industry here. Burt Kornegay, who runs a backpacking and canoeing business, said he nearly had to cancel two major trips planned for October because of the closure. The news of a deal Wednesday night had him scrambling to tell his customers that the October trips were going forward as scheduled.
“I’ve never had anything like it,” he said. “Those trips were 30 percent of my gross revenue for the year. This has been incredibly stressful.”
Kornegay, who voted for Meadows’s Democratic rival in November, said he e-mailed the Republican lawmaker two times and called once to express his anger but got no response.
“I am very sorry that he is my congressman,” Kornegay said. “He nearly put me and a lot of other people around here out of business.”