Reflections on August 29th Town Hall Meeting: Right-Wingers Reenact Presidential Election and Lose Again!

by on August 30, 2009 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Election, Health, Organizing, San Diego

Over 700 people in yesterday’s town hall meeting with Susan Davis chanted “Health Care for All,” while another 300 people chanted “Just Say No!”

Doesn’t that say it all—that the majority of people want health care coverage extended to all citizens?  President elect Obama campaigned on this issue, was elected for his position and is now addressing it.  That’s called moving forward.

The “Just Say No” minority is frozen in time, playing out its own version of “Groundhog Day,” hoping desperately to wake up to a revisionist world circa 1950’s in which a strong leader, a general (but NOT Colin Powell) was elected, God was clearly watching over our a nation, we could kick ass overseas, and nobody was getting uppity on the home front.

While the left at this meeting reflected two contingents that included those who support Medicare for all in the form of HR 676, there was complete unity on the need for and support of health care coverage for all citizens.

The right wingers were against taxes, communism, health care reform, socialism, Nazi-care, Chappaquiddick care, government, a godless state, AARP, and reproductive choice.  And some wanted to deport Obama. It seems there is always one person at these town hall meetings who has a relative who lives in Canada and can assure us that the health care there is awful.  My unofficial award for strangest channeling of our forefather’s intent goes to one woman’s public comment “Our forefathers died for our freedom not for our health care.  Where does it stop? …  If we need food is the government going to give us food too?”

As Doug Porter has reported, the Billionaires for Wealthcare stole the show.  The question for us on the left is whether WE are going to lose our hard fought, hard won election to them too.

There is a dreadful irony lurking here.  Bill Moyers provided a thoughtful interview, a deeply moving interview about health care reform, with Bill Maher a few days ago. 

Moyers was clearly speaking to the Democrat majority in Congress and President Obama on behalf of those of us who elected them, on behalf of those of us who expect true health care reform to come out of this administration.  Moyers sees the Republicans getting the upper hand in the health care reform debate because corporate democrats, looking ahead to the next congressional and presidential elections have invited in the pharmaceuticals, Wall Street and the insurance companies aka Billionaires for Wealthcare, to make a deal.  Moyers specifically mentions Rahm Emanuel, that the initial White House discussions did not include supporters of single payer and that Obama has met with Pharma.

If I could choose one person to point out my flaws, it would be Bill Moyers.  He quietly points out what went wrong and how to get back on track.  And then he says he believes in you and your ability to do it.  He says to our young, smart President to seize the moral imperative that is out there.  Health care reform is a social justice issue.  Frame the debate on that premise.  And he reminds us all that there is no moral leg to stand upon if we believe that the only “free speech” that really counts is the money that endlessly flows from the corporate coffers, with no real concern for which political pocket it lands in, as long as they ultimately own the pocket.

Yep.  The Republicans lost the election.  Now we need to make sure that the Democrats don’t lose it.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

jettyboy August 31, 2009 at 9:28 am

To me it’s become obvious that the “Health Care Debate” is nothing but a sham created by the right wingers who are terrified that their world is changing, and they have lost control. These meetings are like gifts for for them. They don’t have to organize protests themselves. I suspect the corporate interests had this in mind when the town hall meetings were being considered for congress before the summer break was to take place. It has all been a setup to destroy Obama, and any democratic policies to enable those without power a seat at the table. We need to pay attention to strategies and tactics again like we did in the 60’s when the left was far more organized, and the right was left as the re-active group. As it stands at this time in history the right at least knows how to continue the fight while most of the masses who got Obama elected took off their T shirts in November and went home. Don’t continue to under estimate them, they will not go quietly into the night…


Ron August 31, 2009 at 10:12 am

Strategy and tactics yes. The left has not learned one thing the right has learned, which is to consistently, in an organized fashion, challenge the “authority” of the big corporate press and broadcast news organizations. The local TV reporting about the Davis townhall meeting, for example, ALL put the same false message out that the crowd was split rather evenly. It wan’t. The right was outnumbered more than 2 to 1. And the people interviewed and shown on TV were mostly, guess who, the right wing, and the most ignorant ones they could find, at that.

Editors have bosses. The bosses, publishers, know that corporate advertising pays their bills. Upsetting your advertising base can put you out of business. This is why tactics such as the current boycott campaign against Fox News advertisers are so important. It is also why the left needs to campaign for vastly increased funding for public TV and radio and community access programming. The internet is very useful to break through the corporate censorship, but it is not enough. We still have millions of people who have no regular access to the internet.

We all need to think about and talk about strategy and tactics to break through the corporate censorship.


Frank Gormlie August 31, 2009 at 10:21 am

Anna, thanks for the link to Bill Moyers – I watched the entire vid, and he’s right on!

jettyboy – it’s difficult not to agree wid ya. It is also apparent that we should be having town hall meetings with our Congressional reps on all kinds of issues and subjects, like for instance, the War in Iraq, Afghanistan, real socialist health care, the loss of privacy, threats to the First Amendment, corporate control of everything, and so on.

Mainstream dems do not know how to do this. They are tied too deeply in with the corporations that many of the rest of us want to see controlled.


annagrace August 31, 2009 at 10:53 am

The majority of attendees at these meeting are older white people. It is worth remembering that this demographic did not support Obama. Why a group that benefits from Medicare and Vet care would rally against their own self interests gets harder and harder to explain if you remove race from the discussion. So it’s really about race, isn’t it?

And that leads into your correct observation Jettyboy that the majority which elected Obama took off their T-shirts in November and went home.
Health care for all is certainly an issue for older white people. It is also an African American issue, a Latino issue, a woman’s issue, a GLBT issue. It is an issue for the young as well as for the old. As Bill Moyer’s said “We are all in the same boat.”

Health care reform is a social justice issue. If it is consistently presented and fought for as such, maybe a whole lot of people will grab those t-shirts again.


bodysurferbob August 31, 2009 at 11:05 am

…so, let’s do a t-shirt that reads: “I voted for Obama to end the wars, get good health care reform, but all i got was this lousy t-shirt”

… or “I’m putting my Elect Obama T-shirt back on ‘cuz I’m mad as hell at the right-wing crazies being fueled by the health insurance industry!”

… or “I voted for the Black guy and I’m not sorry!”

… or “I’m a socialist but I didn’t know Obama was one too!”

… okay, make up your own. maybe the ob rag can sponsor a t-shirt contest here.


Dickie August 31, 2009 at 11:21 am

Having been at the “town hall” meeting in Redding where Cong. Wally Herger praised the guy who identified himself as “proud to be a right wing terrorist” it was great to see a good turnout from the progressive side in Spring Valley. I’d go so far as to say that not only your participation but the discussion on this blog afterward is pretty exemplary for the rest of us. . . . we were such a small and fragmented group in Redding . . . partly because it was a conservative who called the meeting and he mobilized his forces before even telling the rest of us (his constituents) about the event. Thank you annagrace, jettyboy, Frank, Ron for some very helpful insights . . . and to bsb for some REASLLY GREAT t-shirt ideas . . . I think our side is finally realizing we have to act in response to this very rightwing offensive . . . I only wish the Obama folks were a little more inspiring in their own support for real healthcare reform . . . we might have been mobilized earlier . . . and had some cool t-shirts sooner.


annagrace August 31, 2009 at 11:26 am

bodysurferbob- you’re a genius!!!! Thanks. I like the idea of the T-shirt contest.


Lane Tobias August 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm

bsb, i like t-shirt choice #1.

I am really pissed I couldn’t make it on Sunday, if for no other reason that I am guessing I would have been one of a handful of youngsters in the audience. This issue needs to reach young people, because clearly that demographic is missing from the equation. In the 60’s and 70’s, of course there was cross-generational solidarity with the civil rights and anti-war movements, but the energy of change – as seen in the election of this president – comes from tuned in youth.

This momentum can’t just fizzle out. 2 to 1 majorities apparently aren’t enough. Where are the kids!? The truth is, a lot of them are on the unemployment line…and don’t have health insurance because of it.

So lets get off our asses and make it happen!


mr fresh August 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

“No Health Insurance for Wingnuts”
(It’s a pre-existing condition)


Frank Gormlie August 31, 2009 at 1:31 pm

mr fresh- we have an entire post for U to comment upon.


annagrace August 31, 2009 at 1:35 pm

way to go Mr. Fresh


annagrace August 31, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Check out Sen. Feinstein’s recent press release

1. The Public option is buried within the heading of controlling insurance premiums
2. There is no support for bringing in less expensive drugs from other countries nor of negotiating with pharmaceuticals for reduced costs. The only negotiations she would undertake are “Make prescription drugs more affordable for public hospitals and clinics.” What about affordable for the rest of us?
3. She’s willing to drop Medicare reimbursements for living wills/end of life discussions with a physician for utterly specious reasons- “Health reform should not address end of life care. I feel strongly that anything relating to end of life care does not belong in the bill. These are private family matters that do not require legislation.” Actually it does require legislation to provide medicare reimbursement if you intend to discuss this with a physician, which many of have had to do.

Our Senator is is too comfortable with the Billionaires for Wealthcare. Giver her a call- 619-231-9712. Remind her that the Democrats have a majority and a moral responsibility and we’re expecting her to do the right thing.


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