Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Town Hall Meeting

Last evening I watched Arlen Specter on C-SPAN hold one of his Town Hall meetings. It was an eye opener and a dispiriting event if this is a sample of how our representatives are holding meetings.

When I started watching the meeting, an irate man was ranting because he wasn't allowed to speak and wanted to leave. I assume that he didn't get a number and that is why he was furious. He was a big man and dwarfed Specter. The security people ushered him out.

This meeting was controlled by giving out numbers to those who wished to ask a question. Out of the 30 questions that I saw asked there was only one person who was for the health reform bill. She and her husband both work in the health industry and she seemed to be the only one knowledgeable about the need for reform. The rest of them were so obviously misinformed and used their time to make long speeches about everything from the cap and trade bill (opposed) to wanting term limits for Congressmen and Senators. Their ideology was so obvious that it was no surprise that they were adamantly against health care reform.

Their arguments ranged from one by a young woman on how she and her husband had children and couldn't afford the plan, to other people quoting lines in the Congressional plan that they interpreted wrongly. Specter kept saying that he wouldn't support a plan that didn't pay for itself. This went right over the head of this woman who kept on and asked what would pay for it when the money ran out. Specter was obviously unprepared on specifics in the bill from Congress and only corrected one person who spouted one of the rumors being put out by the insurance industry. It was one of the worst, and Specter angrily said, "That is a malicious, vicious rumor." Otherwise, he kept saying he would look into it. He did remind them that this was not the final bill.

Specter let some things go that I felt he should have corrected. One woman said the tax rate in Canada was 60% to pay for health care. No comment from Arlen. I know Arlen can't antagonize his base and didn't want to argue with them too often, but if this is how other Town Halls are going no minds will be changed. One person used his time to criticize Arlen for changing his party affiliation. He got loud applause. This wasn't a room full of Democrats.

This was a very heated crowd and their minds were made up before they entered the room. They applauded each and every incorrect statement and hooted and hollered during the whole time. This is why the polls show that the 'anti' crowd is winning the debate. Maybe we 'pros' need to become more vocal.

If reform is defeated it is because people are not understanding the consequences of doing nothing and are misinformed about what reform will really do to help them. Can't someone with a big megaphone call them out every time they repeat something that they heard on Fox TV?
Can't Obama tell the facts in simple terms that an eighth grader can understand? Is it possible to change any minds that are so closed?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Nancy Leitz does not write a blog, but she often comments on blogs written by others. Nancy writes stories that can be found on Ronni Bennett's blog, TIME GOES BY. Another one of her stories will be published Friday the 14th in THE ELDER STORY TELLING PlACE. Please visit that site and read her story. I know you won't be disappointed. Here's the link:


Nancy said...


The best example of absolute ignorance regarding the Health Reform came from a woman who appeared to be about 70-75 years old.

It was at one of the famous Town Meetings this week and when it was her turn to speak she shreiked,
"I don't want the Government messing in my health care. If they pay for it they will tell me what to do and will limit my care and will tell me when I have to die."

The Congressman looked at her and said," Aren't you on Medicare?" She said that she was. "Aren't your medical bills being paid by the government.?" "NO",she shouted, They are paid by Medicare, not the Government, and I want to keep it that way."

How are we supposed to fight that?

I agree with you, Darlene. President Obama has to explain the entire proposal as if he were talking to a 3rd grade class.Then, maybe,just maybe, he will get through.

Thank you for mentioning my story at the Elder Storytelling Place. I appreciate it.

Looking to the Stars said...

Darlene, Good Post! I saw that meeting also. I am so fed up with the zero brain cell people that want to cause a stir in these meetings. To tell you the truth, I think they just want to get on TV. We can see how many people don't really understand the issue and I don't think they want to.

People forget Clinton wanted to do something about health care and they shut the door on him hard. Bush never tried because all he wanted was a war.

The Bush administration would've NEVER had the guts to hold town meetings about the things they passed like the patriot act :)

20th Century Woman said...

I think most people do want health care reform. These people who are making all the noise are mostly either paid or duped by the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. They remind me of the "moral majority" which was neither.

And can we expect much from the man who gave us Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court?

Rain said...

The reason so many were there on the anti side was they cared more and knew to get there early. The others were left out by arriving on time but not early.

One problem I feel is that Obama doesn't have a plan yet to sell. It's like here is what it might be. That's how we got into the Iraq war. He has left too much up to the Congress and that is proving to be a mistake. I hope he recognizes this. Robert Reich had a good piece on this.

Pete said...

I received a recorded message telephone call the other day asking me to participate in a poll asking whether I approved of "proposed Medicare cuts now before Congress." I hung up because THERE ARE NO MEDICARE CUTS BEING PROPOSED. NONE. ZERO.

Yet the tsunami of BS from the insurance and pharaceutical industries continues unabated.

Darlene said...

*Nancy - You are welcome for mentioning your story. It was my pleasure. There is no way to combat those who are that ignorant. Like the woman at the McCain rally who said Obama was an AAArab.

*Looking to the Stars - The Repubs didn't need to hold town meetings. They just rubber stamped Bush's policies lock step.

*20th Century Woman - Thanks for reminding me of Specter's part in helping to put the most unqualified man ever on the Supreme Court.

*Rain - Excellent point. The 'pros' definitely need to become better organized. And, yes, there is no final bill yet.

*Pete - They have no shame.