Town hall meetings, protests, debates, civil discourse – these are all important for a strong democracy. There’s nothing like a spirited debate. But the August recess proved to be a rocky time for some members of congress hosting town hall meetings.
First and foremost on everyone’s minds is health care reform. Many people have shown up at these meetings to learn more about this proposed bill. Others have shown up to politely voice their opposition and concern.
Still others, who gave the impression they had been hand-fed specific and deliberate misinformation, were there to shout their anger to the point of drowning out discourse at the meeting. The media snatches up footage of the angry-as-heck protesters, a real ratings booster for them.
There are differing reasons offered up for these raucous invaders of town hall meetings, some gracious and some not so gracious.
We all know Americans in general have been severely impacted by our country’s financial failings over the past few years. The majority of us are smarting from the feeling of powerlessness we’ve experienced watching jobs, stocks, mortgages and retirement circle down the drain while big business gets bailed out of its greedy predicaments. Our country is being ripped apart by politics.
We’re all angry and frustrated, but why take it out on health care reform?
There are some who believe everything conservative talk show hosts say, as they incite anger in their viewers. Talking heads say, “Obama is taking your country from you” or “he’s not one of us.” Is this a racial issue? To some, most certainly.
Talking heads say, “I hope Obama fails” or even “I hope America fails in order to prove him wrong.” What kind of patriots are these that would want to implement the “Scorched Earth Policy” because they don’t favor the current political power? This is no third-world country.
One deliberately false phrase thrown about has been, “Government death panels will euthanize the elderly.”
Holy Moley. Only people wanting to spread absolute fear and confusion would intentionally interpret this from the proposal to authorize Medicare payments for physician consultation for end-of-life directives, like living wills.
This is no power game. This country’s health care system is broken. Everyone knows that. The decisions we should be discussing openly will affect our families far beyond our own lifetime. Do you genuinely want your family to be part of a system that gives you care only if and when you’re able to afford it? A system where 45 million Americans currently can’t afford it?
It’s time for us to look at the big picture. This isn’t really a debate about government’s role in health care, even though those using the smoke and mirrors would like you to believe it is.
This is a matter of life and death. People without coverage will die and they will die much earlier than those with it.
This is about our government helping us obtain the health care we deserve to have when we need to have it. A public option would give us more options, not less.
Columnist Marylin Olds can be reached at email@example.com.