What an unexpectedly large turn-out for the healthcare townhall put on by our Congressman Adam Schiff. More surprising was the passionate and well-thought out presentations that Congressman Schiff made. He is a “blue dog” Democrat who supports a robust public option!
Above is the view outside 2.5 hours before the townhall was even going to start! DailyKos had a rec’d post up about it. There were several news stories about it.
Los Angeles Times – a weak article that under-reported the numbers by more than a few hundred
Pasadena Star News – decent article that also under-reported the numbers significantly (they don’t archive so this link will be dead in a week or two)
Another DailyKos post – good summary of the event (as usual, bloggers give much more info and more accurately)
I took a few pictures, though not as many as I normally take. They give you a little bit of the flavor of the event:
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My experience being there was a mixed one. On the one hand, I was encouraged that so many people would have passion about something political. Apathy has long frustrated me. On the other hand, these people in the right-wing of the political spectrum are mostly angry white people. Their values are so antithetical to my own of peace and social justice. They represent a fringe minority that while large in absolute numbers is not a group that should hold the rest of us hostage politically.
It’s ironic that the refrain most often heard from those on the right was “Read the Bill”. They deliberately misread parts of it and then project their own illiteracy onto the liberals and moderates in the crowd who support healthcare reform. H.R. 3200 can be found here for those who are curious. Fundamentally, I think it is an unfair argument to expect any citizen to read entire bills before forming an opinion on the overall impact of those bills. An intelligent person can rely on multiple sources on any given bill as well as the analysis available online. Some of us have the time and like to delve deeper than others and that’s great, but it is unrealistic to expect all of us to do so. Trying to delegitatize our position for healthcare reform which includes a robust public option is a dishonest effort.
I worry about the direction this country is going when these fringe people are allowed to dominate the political discussion. I worry about the direction we are going when Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Faux’s O’Reilley and Rush Limbaugh become media celebrities on these irrational, hateful, racist peoples’ behalf. I worry when even supposedly mainstream Republican senators and congressmen speak the same violence-tinged, irrational language of these people before tv cameras.
This interview of Frank Schaeffer (In 2007 he published the autobiographical Crazy For God) on Rachel Maddow’s show last week is helpful in spotlighting what I’m talking about above. Frank understands the right-wing better than most because he used to be one of them:
There is also this essay by Sara Robinson which asks the question – “Facist America: Are we there yet“. I remain hopeful that our country will climb out of the mess decades of mostly conservative rule have had on our country, but this does bother me. Sara makes a compelling case that there is a dangerous dynamic at work.
“We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return. “
There was so much celebration for us to feel in November 08 when we won the election and gained solid majorities in Congress. A lot of hope. There is a lot riding on this healthcare reform effort because if the bullying minority gets a win here we are in a lot of trouble, to say nothing of all the Americans who either will not get access to healthcare or lose their access upon losing their job. Freedom is at stake and I’m not quite sure what we community activists are supposed to do about it.