A lot of my progressive friends are having a hard time understanding why folks on the other side of the aisle are so angry that they are behaving like, well like leftist.
Last week I went to a town hall held by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Since the Senate went on recess I have been blogging, calling the senator’s office and writing opinion pieces for my local paper ( http://www.middletownjournal.com/opinion/columnists/jeff-jena-where-have-you-gone-sen-sherrod-brown-255680.html?showComments=true ) asking him to have a public meeting in my county. At first the Senator was having stealth get togethers with supporters and then back announcing them on his website as “public forums.”
At one of his stealth meetings on the Ohio State campus in Columbus a few conservatives got wind of the meeting and tried to get in and were told that the Senator wasn’t holding town halls. This was documented on video at Hotair.com. (http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/14/sherrod-brown-were-not-doing-town-halls/)
The Senator was so afraid to face conservative voices he went to Afghanistan. While I fully support him visiting out troops he has never been a supporter of the war or giving our troops what they need to win in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s a strange kind of guy who would rather face bullets from the Taliban than a few harsh comments from conservative voters.
Finally the Senator announced a “public forum” on healthcare. It was to be held on a college campus in the middle of an urban area. I was told by his lead press flack that the meeting was to be open with no reserved seats, first come first served. Later I received an announcement from the President’s PAC, Organizing for America directing supporters to show up an hour earlier than the time published on the Brown website.
When I arrived at the town hall there were already many folks in union t shirts seated up front. There were also several sections of seats reserved for students who were bussed into the meeting. The meeting was scheduled to last 90 minutes. When the meeting stated the Senator announced that there would be several “invited” speakers who would talk for five minutes each after which the Q and A would begin. The five speakers took almost 55 minutes! That left just 35 minutes for the questions.
Before the meeting started we were told if we wanted to ask a question to put our names on a 3×5 card and pass them to the middle of the aisle. Being the nice guy I am I collected the cards from our row and passed them to the staffer collecting them. When the Q and A began the Senator pulled five names from the cards to come forward and ask questions. The guy who was sitting next to me was called even though he had not handed me a card! When he got to the mic he gave a long sob story about his problems and the Senator gave a scripted answer which I had heard him use before. In all only three questions were asked that did not agree with the Senator. Three questions in 90 minutes of what had been purported to be a fair and open public meeting on healthcare.
This is why we are angry, my Progressive friends. I didn’t want to have a protracted debate. I didn’t want to change the Senator’s mind because I know it is closed to different views. I just wanted to be heard by my elected official. I didn’t want to be lied to by his press secretary and then treated like a rube at the county fair when I arrived at the town hall.