Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Town Hall Ruckus

It's time to weigh in on the haters. I wasn't going to give them the ink but now I realize I'm too ticked off.

Last night The Spouse made a very good point. "This never would have happened in W's America," he said. It's true. Bush orchestrated all his events. They were invitation only. If you had the "wrong" politics or the wrong look or the wrong T-shirt, you didn't get in. That way, he was always preaching to the choir and got his tidy, we-all-agree-and-ain't-I-just-the-best photo ops. But the Democrats, who apparently still care more about the actual process of democracy than their counterparts, aren't doing that. They're letting anyone in to these health care town halls, even though they know that the GOP is sending in clowns for the express purpose of disrupting the meetings. (Historical footnote: The Nazis enjoyed doing that, too).

I granted The Spouse his "celebrate the democracy" point but it still ticks me off. And here's why: it's not about health care; it's all about politics.

A few nights ago one of our reps held a town hall, sponsored by the American Legion, for the purpose of discuss Veteran's issues. The meeting was high jacked by haters, who insulted the VA reps, accusing them of eating up time with their presentations (the ones they were asked to give) instead of letting the "people" air their grievances. It was, according to reports, pretty ugly. And the irony in this particular situation is that the people who were raving about not wanting government health care are largely receiving Medicaid and VA benefits. (Hi, those are government programs. Just sayin').

You see, these ruckus people aren't interested in democracy or in having legitimate questions answered. They are just interested in disrupting the process. They don't want to listen. They don't want misinformation corrected. They're just there to hate.

And hate is the issue. You see, the GOP knows that Barack Obama cannot be "allowed" to win on health care. If he is successful in getting any legislation passed, they will suffer. They have to defeat Obama on this so they can congratulate themselves on having him under their boot. It's not a secret. The success of Barack Obama, on any level, is a defeat for the GOP. They still can't believe he got elected, they're still pissed about it and the only strategy left for them at the moment is bringing him down. If they can't do it with the "birther" kerfuffle (which is in itself so ridiculous that I really cannot bring myself to give it any more space than I just have), they'll do it by derailing an ambitious effort to do something about the catastrophe that is health care in America.

The thing that bugs me the most about it is this: out of all the plans before Congress, none of them came from the Republicans. Obama said at the outset that he didn't care where good ideas came from; if there were good ideas or plans put forward they would be taken under advisement. All the current plans came from the Democratic side of the aisle or are bi-partisan. (We will continue to give snaps to those Republicans who are still interested in doing their real job). There is no major, comprehensive reform legislation from the Republicans. Why? They don't want to play. They don't have any desire to reform health care. Let's say there was a Republican plan to be debated. Let's say it was a good plan. Let's say that it passed. In the narrow, twisted view of the current GOP leadership that would still be a bad thing. Not only might it cut into the profits of their friends at the health insurance and drug companies, it would still, in their minds, be equated as a win for Obama. Because he's the one who wanted reform. And they just can't give him that. Screw the millions of Americans without insurance. Screw the millions who go into bankruptcy every year because of their medical bills. Screw the folks who happily pay their premiums only to lose their insurance the second they actually become ill. Hey! That's worked for 20, 30 years. Right?

Wrong. No, if the GOP leadership had a nit in their heads they would have crafted a decent proposal, tried to push it through and then run with that success to the mid-term elections. But they don't want to boast about reforming health care. They want to boast that they've kept Barack Obama from effectively leading. "He tried to reform health care but he couldn't do it. What a loser". That's what they want to be able to say.

Despite all the noise (and the perception it creates that no one wants health care reform), I don't think this is the strategy that will allow the GOP to regain the majority in the mid-terms. I just don't. Until they understand the motivations of the voters who swept them out of power, until they understand the thirst for true leadership that most Americas still feel, they are not going to get their power back. And if they are successful in scuttling health care legislation, they'd best not crow too much. I'll bet the DNC is already working on the ads: show clips of angry posers in town hall meetings, show a picture of the Republican candidate and end with "This is the guy that saw to it you don't have health care". End scene.

Sometimes I wish I was a Republican so that I could be on the inside screaming, "You guys! Wake up! People are tired of the status quo. We want to win, we have to start leading! Remember Eisenhower!" Or something like that. But I'd just be shouted down. It seems that's all the GOP is capable of right now. And that's really, really sad.

On another note, Sarah Palin should be institutionalized. The woman is delusional and it's scary. Poor thing.



Blogger Buck opined...

I hear that Rick Santorum is considering a run for the presidency. The wingnuts are already salivating over a prospective Santorum/Palin ticket.

I think I just threw up a little. . .

August 12, 2009 9:25 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

That had better be one of your satire pieces, Buck.

August 12, 2009 11:56 AM  
Blogger Anne opined...

On an unrelated note, I have a Catholic question for you on my blog today.

August 12, 2009 12:05 PM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

In my small, very red town, there have been a few Tea Parties, but no Health Care revolts....but, they will come sure as there is day and night. The paper is filled with letters to the editor with words like...left leaning idiots, socialist pigs, brain dead dems and racial slurs...and I just sit and read and take a deep breath. We are an unheard, much hated group here and most days I like to live my life without threat. Sad isn't it that I am such a coward.

August 12, 2009 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Syd opined...

I went to a town hall meeting last night--not my representative, but a Blue Dog who supports a public option--and what you describe sounds a lot like what I experienced: signs comparing Obama to Hitler, calling a public option socialism, and "Don't kill my grandma!" were all over the place. I ended up standing in front of a VERY loud group who shouted or chanted during the Rep's opening remarks, during the moderator's remarks, during the remarks of the 5 panelists ("We didn't elect you! ANSWER THE QUESTIONS!"), during the reading of questions submitted just prior to the event's start, and during the Rep's answers to those questions.

Basically, I came away thinking that this particular group had already made up their minds; that nothing the Rep, or anyone else on the podium, said would have satisfied them unless it agreed with own opinions; and that they were so damned rude I wanted to slap all of them silly.

In the spirit of fairness, the pro-reform side also had their signs out in force, and both sides did plenty of whooping and hollering and cheering and booing, depending on what was going on. But I personally did not see or hear anything/anyone on the pro side behaving in the way those folks behind me did. And when I left, I realized my own blood pressure had risen by several points in anger and frustration.

And there was also the thought that in some countries in the world, such a meeting would never have been allowed. So I guess there's still one point in our favor...

August 12, 2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Mom opined...

I hate politics

August 12, 2009 1:30 PM  
Blogger Mom opined...

I am hating the screaming and shouting and rudeness. This is not helpful and just makes me mad.

August 12, 2009 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha

How did the news media ever let the idea that "seeing Russia" was acceptable foreign policy experience for the V P? I remember watching the V P debate and Biden saying that he thought Palin was qualified. "Talk about your throw up".

Sadness. I blame it all on the "war" on drugs. Big lies beget bigger lies. So here we are now.

Thanks for writing this blog. I know its really hard and we both know you could actually pay a price.



August 12, 2009 1:49 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

I'll be over in a sec, Anne.

You're not a coward, Rosie. Sometimes keeping your head down is a smart move.

Ironic, isn't it, Syd, how these town halls are leading to a rise in blood pressure? Maybe that's the GOP health care plan.

I feel ya, Mom. I feel ya.

Anonyba, aww, I'm not going to suffer. All the anonymous Republicans stopped leaving nasty comments after the last time I disagreed with their tactics.

August 12, 2009 6:07 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

Clearly,and after great efforts on the part of the administration,'bi-partisanship' is never going to happen.
I think it's time that the Democratic power we overwhelmingly put in place in the last election wash our hands of the Neanderthalian Right,and go about the business of keeping them out of the process..WE WON!..We don't need them,and we certainly don't need the petty distractions they create.

August 12, 2009 7:19 PM  
Blogger Grish opined...

I watched a grainy youtube video of a Senior so mad he was actually yelling at the speaker like a 6 year old.

I found myself secretly hoping for it to turn into one of those taser videos...

August 13, 2009 4:52 AM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

Yeah Rainey! You hit all the nails squarely on their heads.

August 13, 2009 6:16 AM  

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