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My Date with the Crazy Folk

August 24, 2009

Over the weekend our esteemed Congressbabe hosted one of those town hall thingamajigs you may have been hearing about.

Two words: Whoa. Nelly.

The event had been publicized for well over two weeks, giving all parties the chance to mobilize. I felt confident going in that the pro side of the health care reform debate would be well represented and in fact, we were. The line began forming  before 1 PM and by the time my friends and I got there at 1:30 PM there were easily 1,500 people outside the venue, the overwhelming majority wearing “Health Care Reform Now!” stickers and carrying signs that read “Democracy Requires Civility” and “Pro Public Option.” My initial take was at least 75/25 pro/anti, if not 80/20. Sure the Birthers and the TEAbaggers were there, but for the most part it seemed as if they stuck to the street…you know, the fringe.

Alas, when we finally did find the end of the line and prepared for a two hour wait in the blazing midday New Mexico sun, it became immediately obvious that my friends and I were sandwiched between two sets of crazy.

I’ll spare you the gory details and just say that I must be mellowing into my advanced age of 39. One of the friends I was with is a trial lawyer (and a feisty one at that) and she was more than happy to keep poking the proverbial crabs with a stick. Some highlights are too juicy to skip though. Did you know:

  • there is no poverty in the US?
  • anybody without health insurance must not have it because they  have 8 kids?
  • anybody who lives outside the US is just not happy?
  • that the whole “promoting the General Welfare” thing in the Preamble to the Constitution is a typo?

My personal favorite was when one man told me that because I support health care reform, I had no compassion “for the unborn.” (For those of you who don’t know me in real life, I’m six months pregnant with our third babe. I’ve never carried large, so yes, the look on his face when I lifted my shirt WAS priceless.)

Now I was raised in a conservative home and I am fluent in Republican. But I don’t speak Wingnut. There was no true dialog to be had with these folks, only fearful exaggeration, myths and outright lies.

It turned out that we got within about 20 people of the doors when the venue reached capacity and we were turned away. Two hours in the sun makes a preggo mama tired, so we hopped in the car and ran back home to watch the live stream online. Though clearly in the minority both outside and inside the meeting, the antifolks got crankier and louder as the meeting went on. Bless the emcee’s heart, she was so professional, polite and unflappable, but in the last 15 minutes I think I heard her threaten to throw about 10 people out.

How did Representative  Heinrich do? I rate him a ‘meh plus.” On the one hand, he did listen, he stayed calm and he clearly came out in support of a public option. On the other hand, one of the invited members of the panel was the head of the local Libertarian crowd – not in any way a health care professional – and it became a bit of a debate between the two of them. And that is the difference between a newbie national politician and well, Barney Frank. Personally, I needed my Rep to Barney Frank it up with these people. At some point, there is no point in continuing the veil of bipartisanship.

I recognize that nothing up until this necessarily has anything to do with the military, but the final question of the event did come from an active duty Airman. I’ve not been able to find an actual transcript from the event, but here are the highlights of the question, again, from a member of the active duty military:

  • the government stinks
  • he hated the government
  • the government has “big tentacles” that he “doesn’t want in his life”
  • no one deserves health care
  • oh, yes, did I mention he  hated the government?  Enough “to die for it.”

No. Really. A member of the military said those things. And sadly, got cheers from the Wingnuts and a “thank you for your service” from the Congressman.

Now I’m a big fan of irony, but even that was a little thick for me. Secretary Napolitano, please follow up on that one.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 3:33 am

    I have 8 kids? Wow, my memory must be a LOT worse than I thought!

    • August 25, 2009 7:56 am

      Oh, I forgot…anyone without insurance eats out all the time too…

      Truly, the saddest thing for me what just how much of the ranting had absolutely nothing to do with health care reform – it was just spewing forth of judgment, fear and anger over some hypothetical situations that had never even affected these people in their lives.

      For the life of me I do not understand why some folks cannot grasp the concept that just because something doesn’t affect one directly doesn’t mean it’s not affecting them indirectly.

  2. August 25, 2009 5:27 am

    wow. Just amazing – the amount of dis information that was being fed to these folks. “promote the General Welfare” – is a typo? and as for 8 kids – I got one. The member of the military ; that one scares me. He doesn’t want the tentacles of the government in his life – that’s just too funny, if it wasn’t so scary. He’s an idiot, his entire life IS the gubmint! I worry about those in his unit, this man is unhinged.

    I agree, we need a Barney in our politicians, one who is polite up to a point, and then puts the brakes on listening to the wingnuts.

    Thank you for the lesson in wingnuttery. I don’t think I ever want to be fluent in that particular deviant from the normal.


  3. August 25, 2009 7:36 am

    Well… I can tell you, I didnt’ have health insurance for most of my life. As a kid it was spotty at best, and once I was out on my own I worked some crappy low paying jobs for a while. Those jobs do not provide healthcare. They dont pay enough for a young kid in their late teens / early twenties on their own trying to stay afloat to afford their own healthcare. I used to have anxiety attacks about it. I used to worry that I’d get into a car accident, or fall and break something and that I would be stuck with ridiculously high medical bills that would turn into debt that I wouldnt be able to afford to pay off. Almost gets me into panic mode just thinking about it.

    So, as someone that has experienced this and does NOT have 8 kids, and who isnt looking for a hand out… I think these people need to step back and re-think why they are against a public option. Because clearly they are only thinking about one side of it.

    But here’s another thing to think about… people with 8 kids might already have some sort of publicly funded health care for their kids. Medicaid anyone?

  4. August 25, 2009 9:38 am

    We need to develop a “wingnut dictionary” 🙂

    Excellent post. Nice to hear from a normal, rational person and their experience.


  5. Michelle permalink
    August 25, 2009 10:50 am

    As the parent of a child with a chronic medical condition, what I tell people is this:
    1) the government run insurance I have now is the best insurance we’ve ever had – thank you Tricare, and it’s free, not $800 a month with 20% copays that we were paying when dh was at his civilian job (we’re active duty guard).
    2) the majority of people that need health care reform already have health insurance – they have jobs, they’re paying their premiums but their insurance company is not giving them the supplies and treatments they need. We’re not talking about deadbeats or welfare mothers or illegals (or people with 8 kids who eat out all the time) we’re talking about real families in dire shape. WHY the right cannot see that? It’s beyond me. Walk a day in my shoes and talk to all the other parents I talk to who have to decide between getting christmas presents for their kids or medical supplies. It’s a crying shame.

    • August 25, 2009 11:22 am

      Thanks for commenting, Michelle.

      I get glib about this, but it’s only because my mind does truly get boggled by the hypocrisy, the lack of compassion and the sheer rage on the part of those who cannot see or accept that life can be less than an even playing field.

  6. September 1, 2009 11:10 pm

    you lifted up your shirt? really. oh i like you.

    and also, “no poverty in the US.” wow, just wow.

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