The health care reform debate has finally come to my town. Tonight Senator Barbara Boxer, (D-CA), held a book discussion and signing at Rakestraw Books in downtown Danville. It was not supposed to be about health care.
But, a crowd I would estimate at 200, gathered outside and around back of the book store. Most were chanting loudly against the current health care reform legislation before Congress, which is being backed by President Obama. There was a smattering of supporters, who also carried signs. Some of them engaged in heated, but civil debate with some of the protesters.
I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, since so many people know me here. I also left my video camera at home, because I think some of the ugliness on both sides of this debate has come from people grandstading to the TV cameras present. I also decided not to interview anyone, but just to mingle in the crowd and write down what was on some of the protest signs. I was trying to be the "fly on the wall" if you can at such an event.
Here is what some of the signs FOR health care reform said:
"We Support Boxer and We Live Here!"
"60% of bankruptcies in the U.S. are Due to Medical Costs."
"14,000 Americans Lose Their Health Insurance Every Day: Shame on You if That's Acceptable"
Here is what some of the signs AGAINST health care reform said:
"Read the Bill!"
"Let Me Be Clear: No Obama Care"
"I am an 'Authentic Grass Roots' Protester Against Government Health Care"
Protesters outnumbered supporters by about 3-to-1. Plenty of Danville Police were on hand to keep things orderly.
I was glad to see this. For all the criticism against the protesters nationwide, at least they are out there exercising their rights and are engaged in the process. Too often, apathy is the attitude towards most political issues, and why we see voter turnout rates of forty percent, or much less.
Mind you, I don't favor some of the protesters who have completely shouted down and shut down some of the Congressional health care town hall meetings, as that is just rude. You can't on one hand insist on a Member of Congress reading the entire bill (and I fully agree they should read it cover to cover), and then react by shouting him down, while he tries to explain it. We can't have an educated discussion, unless we actually have a discussion!
As I said, I think the First Amendment is the big winner here. People are assembling and speaking out and making their voices heard on all side of this debate. Yes, it's ugly at times, but who said democracy was a pretty process. We are, after all, a nation founded by protest!
(This article reprinted with permission from www.MarkCurtisMedia.com)