Kim and I are just back from a town hall meeting in Whitehall with Representative Ron Kind. It was quite an experience. The first thing wwe noticed upon arrival in the high school parking lot were the large number of buses - some with Minnesota license plates - which set us to wondering just how many in the packed auditorium were actually Mr. Kind's constituency.
As we waited for the doors to open a young man came around with stickers reading: "Health Care For America Now" and asked if would like to wear one. We both took one. (They have a web site at: healthcareforamericanow.org) Then we noticed a woman near us who had something crumpled up in her hand. She also asked for the "Health Care For America Now" sticker and after the man handed it to her and turned away from her, she crumpled it up. It was then I realized that she now had destroyed two of them.
Kim said to her: "If you don't really want those, you shouldn't take them - there are others here who might want them. The woman said nothing -- just held out her hand with the destroyed stickers as if to say "here, take these".
I was very tempted to say to her that she was obviously a good American who believes in free speech but she was a lot bigger than I. Later I saw her taking a seat (which she filled fully) and on her back was a sticker that said: "Ron Kind is the WRONG KIND".
This same woman joined a bunch of her cohorts and at one point they all began singing "This Land Is Your Land". I laughed and turned to Kim and said: "These people are singing a song by Woody Guthrie! Guthrie was one of the all time greatest socialists in this country ever!"
It was all I could do to restrain myself from going over and telling them to "google" Woody Guthrie when they get home.
Those who wished to address the Representative Kind had to draw numbers which would be drawn randomly throughout the meeting.
Before the meeting was opened to questions a registered nurse made some very good points about how broken and in need of fixing our health care system really is.
For the most part the crowd listened although there was some heckling from way in the back of the auditorium. Once the people who had drawn numbers began to speak, however, the "Just Say NO" folks became very loud and impolite, even though on a hand out that was distributed before the event rules were as follows:
1. No poster or signs inside the town hall facility.
2. Everyone will respect each other. There will be no disruptions.
3. There will be no talking over one another.
4. Everyone will fill out an informatonal sheet before entering the faciity.
Everyone who wants to ask a question or make a statement must draw a number.
Kim and I discussed the event on the way home. We are astounded at the misinformation some people believe. We were very disheartened in the hatred we heard expressed for President Obama. Over and over the right wingers kept blaming his administration for the debt.
How short our memories really are! Where did the tremendous debt come from to start with? That damn illegal war in Iraq that's where. Yet all these "patriots" never once raised their voices against all the chicanery plied upon us in eight years of Bush and henchmen.
I drew number #579 - and was stunned when they drew my number. Here is what I said:
"I have a friend who lives in Ohio and works for a health care network. They hired him as an "independent contractor" so that they wouldn't have to give him health insurance! Last October he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Insurance companies won't sell him coverage or make it so expensive that it is unattainable. Insulin refills? $196.00 for two months! A doctor visit? $110.00! Last October he spent three days in the hospital at a cost of $15,000!
As a self employed American, I am pleading with you to keep the public option in the health care bill. It is fair and there must be such a choice if we are going to have any improvement in our existing health care system. Insurance companies are holding us hostage if there is no checks and balances through genuine competition.
So my question, Representative Kind, is are you going to hold out for the public option?"
- Now here's the sad part. I was by then so nervous I was literally shaking, and by the time I returned to my seat and settled down, I missed his answer.
My overall feeling about the meeting is that there are a lot of people who are frightened right now - and I think we have FOX NEWS to blame for that. I have tuned in to their nightly litany of lies and it makes my stomach turn.
Everyone needs to take a deep breath and READ, READ, READ!
My other gut feeling is a lot of this is based on racism. The rednecks can't stand the fact that we have a black president.
Well, at least there were no guns at this meeting.
I will close this blog with another comment from one of the audience members that touched me deeply: "I believe in the golden rule: "What thou dost to the least of my brethren, thou dost to me! Americans need to reach deep into their souls and recognize what is right and just."
Health care is a right, not a privilege.
I couldn't believe it when the first guy up to the microphone said "I believe health care is a privilege , not a right."
And he probably declares himself a Christian and goes to church every sunday.