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AUGUST 19, 2009 12:37AM

Are We As Crazy as They Think? MS Town Hall Meeting

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I was originally going to compose a long post about the emotional rollercoaster that was last night's town hall meeting on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Keep in mind that these are people still bitter over their battles with insurance companies post-Katrina, so would they have a more nuanced view of a public option plan designed to compete with the tyrannical health insurance companies?  Ah, one can dream.  But still, I had my surprises and disappointments, and I left (disgusted, early) still nursing a love/hate relationship with my home state.

In a part of the country where being on time is often seen as being early, the parking lot of our meeting facility was full forty minutes before the meeting started.  Cars were backed up over the hill of a nearby bridge, barely moving as police ushered people into the parking lot.  A line from the entrance snaked across the entire lot, and I got in behind a 60-something  couple who conversed with a man of about 50.

The 60-year-old woman was tall, thin, with a sun-worn face and wearing a  denim jacket composed of American flag swatches.  She was showing off her belt buckle--bought at a gun show--which had the barrel of a gun engraved on it and pointed outward at innocent bystanders.  Her husband's shirt proclaimed that he hearted NY.  The 50-year-old man wore office clothes, but seemed to appreciate the gun belt buckle that his new acquaintance was extolling.  I saw a van nearby with stickers reading, "I'm already against the next war" and "War is terrorism with a bigger budget."  I guessed it didn't belong to any of these three people.

The woman was telling the 50-year-old man not to log on to any government website (on the healthcare bill, I think) because, "they have you if you do."  By the context of the conversation, she seemed to think that the government could spy on you from these websites.  I just wanted to warn you people. ;)

So, in general, they bitched about government healthcare.  I talked to them a little bit.  The woman said that until she got on Medicare, she was "cash and carry" for her medical bills.  I asked what she would have done if she had gotten in a car wreck and had huge emergency bills.  She said her car insurance would cover hospital bills from a car wreck, but if she had a hospital bill to pay, she could make small payments to the hospital no-interest.  She said that the hospital hated it, but she wouldn't put it on her credit card when the interest had just gone up to 25%.

The woman and the 50-year-old office worker man talked about how they wouldn't give to charities like the United Way.  "Most of that money goes into the pocket of somebody in their office,"  the man said.  He went on to  say that he would give to his neighbors--he gave one $300 after Katrina and wasn't worried when he got it back--but he wouldn't help these big charities.

The lady agreed, but said she did give to the Salvation Army.  They helped her  years ago when she was broke and alone with two kids.  "It was my own fault," she said.  "I took up with the wrong man and got stranded." The Salvation Army helped her until she got a job.  Her new boss gave her grocery money before her first pay day.  She went to a landlord and told him that she had just gotten a job but had no money and no place to stay, so he had her pick an apartment and just pay when she could.  Her first Christmas, people from work showed up with presents and a Christmas tree for her kids, while she stood there sobbing.  She was from out-of-state, but she said when she had lived here that people had been so nice that, after moving out of Mississippi for a job, she resolved to come back when she got older.  She and the 50-year-old man talked about the importance of paying it forward (she said she had some tenants who hadn't paid rent in a year, but how could she throw them out?). They talked about people who abuse welfare (the man had a sister who had been on welfare for 35 years) and about people who abused their FEMA money.  The man said his State Farm insurance had gone up 40% after Katrina and was about to go up a huge amount again.

So I reflected on this as we got into the building and were asked to sign in.  Here were people who did believe in helping their neighbors, but their definition of neighbor was a small, select group.  This woman was helped years ago by virtual strangers, so perhaps, somewhere deep down, she believes that anyone in need could get help in the same way.  Why would the government need to intervene?  In her eyes, they waste and misuse.  When studies come out to show "The Most Giving State" (this includes charity, tips, etc.), Mississippi comes out on top many times1.  I have always struggled to understand how on one hand, when I look at my home state I see a people who are very generous and on the other hand, I see a people who are suspicious.

If I had a second of home state pride, it was all about to evaporate as I got into the building (standing room only), and took my place along the wall.

Our Representative Gene Taylor started by announcing that, "Town hall meetings always start with a prayer and a pledge." This got a standing ovation.  People stood, and the men took their caps off and bowed their heads.  After the pledge, we had another prayer for a local soldier from the next county who was killed in Iraq and had a public funeral. 

Poor Gene, a conservative Democrat who often votes with Republicans, was going to need all the prayer he could get soon.  He started to talk about all he had done for the local defense industry.  Cutting costs here.  Trying to get top-of-the-line tanks to have sloping bottoms, thereby saving soldiers lives that would have been taken in the flat-bottom tanks that are so vulnerable to landmines.  He fought Rumsfeld, who didn't want to spend as much for some of these innovations.  As he went on, every once in a while, someone would shout that they wanted to get to healthcare.  To get on with it.

He told them something that Verbal would be proud of, but he wasn't as direct as he should be.  He showed them all the things our taxes go for, then he showed that Mississippi puts $10 billion into the federal government for taxes but gets $30 billion back.  And where does it come from?  Someone sarcastically yelled, "The federal government."  No one seemed to get the weight of this.  Taylor should have made it clear that it comes from other hardworking Americans in other states.  In other words, we can't pretend that the government doesn't do anything for us.  We are all on the dole, in a way. Now on one hand, compare the wage of an electrician here to one in Maryland or New York, and you'll see a huge difference.  Sometimes northern companies used to relocate here (before they started moving to Mexico) because they could pay such lower wages.  Our unions are much weaker, in part historically because the wealthy could use racial politics to cripple union growth.  This is a drop in the bucket of the analysis that should be done.  Basically, if the money isn't here and the jobs aren't here, how do we have it to pay?  But, then again, people here don't want to realize the help they are getting.

A few minutes later, it got ugly.  Taylor showed us the deficit growth, based on presidents, starting with Regan.  You could tell people didn't want him insulting  Regan, but when he got to the slide showing problems under Bush, they went wild at the sight of his name.  They were so angry about their beloved Bush being insulted.  They wanted to hear about how evil Obama is or talk about that bastard Clinton.

Then Taylor tried to show them about the Bush tax plan.  He had charts of income from roughly $30,000 to $90, 000 and showed how much money they paid in.  Again, he wasn't direct enough.  People were bitching and wanted more and more to hear about healthcare.  People were angry about hearing criticism of Bush.  I was getting angrier and angrier at their stupidity.  "Listen!" I yelled once.  A few around me shut up, but the crowd was getting nastier and nastier.  I thought he wanted to show us that people who make $90, 000 don't pay a fair percentage, but it was hard to focus.   He definitely said that  Bush cut taxes during war, and no one has ever done this.  This increased our deficit.  The crowd  wouldn't listen and wouldn't let me listen. 

As a former teacher and teaching assistant, I knew what Gene Taylor should have done to explain.  Simplify the chart.  Show that at $30, 000, you pay x percent, all the way down to the people who make millions, and  pay Y percent.  Pay attention to the percent, not the amount that gets paid in, because the amounts look similar and crowd the chart.  DON'T begin by mentioning Bush and don't put his name in the title of the slide, because the crowd already gets its hackles up before you start.  Just say, "Let me show you how unfair the recent tax cuts are to the middle class compared to how much they helped the rich."  Then mention what year these took place at the end.  (This part is still confusing to me when I try to go back and research the details, but at least I tried to listen.)

He told people that insurance companies are not subject to anti-trust regulation.  He drew a parallel with how screwed over people were by insurance during Katrina. The crowd sort of listened, but still, they wanted their chance to bitch about healthcare.  I can't tell you the profanity that was racing through my mind wanting to come out at these people.  He told the crowd that they should fight for insurance companies to not be exempt from anti-trust legislation (I think this exemption happened in '99, and when the crowd wanted to blame it on Clinton, he had to remind them of the Republican congress).  He said that the Medicare drug bill that passed under Bush did NOT allow the government to get the cheapest medications.  It was a handout to the drug companies.  He said that this had to be changed.  Here it got funny. "You know about Cialis, " he said.  And he kept telling the crowd that "Cialis CR" was $5 a pill, while a nearly identical "Cialis" generic was 50 cents a pill.  Why should the government have to pay the pharmaceutical companies for a more expensive pill? he asked.

I think someone on his staff told him that Cialis was for erectile dysfunction.  The whole time he kept saying "Cialis," he meant to talk about Ambien.  He beat his head with the palm of his hand when he found this out, and laughed, saying, "Chalk it up to me being an old man."

So basically, anything he said about Bush was met by hysteria from the crowd or shouts of, "What about Obama?"  When he brought up the fact that a Bush cronie got a contract to move the FEMA trailers for $16,000 per trailer, they weren't even listening.  He really didn't drive the point home of how this adds to the deficit.

So, we got to the healthcare questions. 

I scrawled brief notes at the meeting, and so all of this recounting may be slightly out-of-order and not exact quotations, but you will get the picture.

A woman stood up and seemed disconnected from the audience with her concerns.  She talked about how great Gene Taylor was and about how we should reform the SEC and such.  She sounded professional and rehearsed.  I agreed with what she said, but it seemed like an act.  People kept asking, "What's your question?"

Eventually, a man got up who was pissed.  He said he wasn't a Republican or Democrat, but he acted like the government is trying to take away our rights.  "We're fighting for our freedom."  He doesn't want them "messing with my healthcare."  He paid $700 a month for health care, he said, and loved it.  And the government is trying to take away our guns.  They want us to register them!!

The audience loved him.  I considered moving to Canada. 

An African-American lady got up after him.  She said she appreciated that he had healthcare, but what about those millions who have lost their jobs and couldn't pay $700 a month for health care?  I clapped.  A smattering of others enthusiastically clapped.  That's when the booing started.  The majority was nasty, though the woman's comment was--unlike the previous comment--evenly given and levelheaded.  Anyway, I consider myself a Christian who *tries* to consider the less fortunate.  Apparently these people think that Christianity is not based on helping the poor.  Even scarier, these people don't realize that they could lose their jobs and there could be NO MONEY to help them with healthcare expenses.  Our current systems are going broke, as Taylor said, and I know most people can't afford to pay out-of-pocket for insurance or to pay directly for healthcare.

I thought it wrong to boo anyone.  I would clap when I supported or be silent,  because I thought people should be heard.  It was frustrating to see such rudeness.  Anyway, one man got up and said that his nephew in New Zealand had a rotator cuff injury and had to wear a sling for months because he couldn't see the doctor.  I wondered if he wasn't just planted there.  He didn't sound like he grew up around here based on his accent, though he claimed he was from here.  We do have Yankees :) who've moved in (like that woman in line), but I just wondered about his story.  Of course, everyone agreed about the dangers of government healthcare.

I had come to the meeting considering asking a question, but I saw there was no reasoning with anyone.  Taylor got huge applause when he announced, "And you all know by now" that he wouldn't support government healthcare for everyone.  I knew that he'd said in earlier meetings that he wasn't for a public option.  That is why I almost didn't go to the meeting.

Anyway, I considered leaving early.  I saw more questions than I wrote about here, but it was all the same.  One African American man from near me called out, "Have you supported any of Obama's bills, Rep. Taylor?"  Taylor looked like he had to think for a minute.  "That's right. That tells me everything I need to know," the man said.  "Why don't you just join the Republicans?"

Someone else said, "Join us.  We need you, Gene!"

The first man said, "Why do you vote so much like the Republicans?"

Taylor said he thought he voted like an American.

Well, soon I'd had enough.  I'd seen an hour of the lynch mob--I mean, meeting.  I asked a policeman standing nearby if I could leave from the side doors, while noticing that a man from outside had his ear pressed to the space between them.  "One out is one in!" he pleaded with the policeman as I left.  There were other people kept outside because the building had reached capacity.  I went to my car.

I was so charged with anger as I left that I swear I considered moving.  What the hell am I doing here?  I am working on getting a homeless ministry started with my church.  I am helping take care of my mom and grandma, who are fairly independent but would be unhappy and in an assisted living home otherwise.  I have five pets and have had a hard time getting a job.  Where would I go? 

I kept thinking how stupid those people were.  They are so transfixed on the fear that someone poorer would take something of theirs or that the evil government will hurt them, that they CAN'T see corporations and the rich taking from them.  The condescension that these middle and working class people have for their imaginary version of the distant poor is the condescension that many wealthy people and corporations have for them. The poor are not as dangerous to them as the wealthy.  Their death panels are as real as Santa Claus. 

FoxNews, Rush Limbaugh, Big Pharma are not their friends.  Some of this they see, but they are blind to most of it.  They fear Obama, and he isn't perfect, but why weren't they protesting Bush?  Where were they for 8 years?

I got home and tried to tell my mom what I saw.  I told her how they missed the whole point of the taxes chart.  "You get it, don't you?" I said. 

"Yes," she said weakly.  Her mouth and hands always tremble, unforeseen  permanent side effects from medications.  One of her medicines is $800 a month, and we are nearing the 'gap' in her Humana plan.  There is no generic available.  She would be in a state hospital--in desperate circumstances--without it.

I have no good end to this.  I think that people will have to get more desperate....more jobs lost...more healthcare benefits down the toilet...before they pay attention, before they see that Fox is not their friend.  I thought of telling Taylor how to simplify his presentation if I could catch his ear.  From Podunk, Mississippi, where I try to love my neighbor (though it's easier to love folks I meet on the internet), I'm signing off.  As for a better tomorrow, we'll see.

 

_______________________________________________

1. Some people say that the logic of the study is faulty, because since we are a poor state, what we give seems to be such a high percentage of our income, BUT I don't see another way to figure it other than by percentage.  We can't give money that we don't make.

P.S. If we don't get the bill this time, maybe a place to start is to press to repeal what happened in '99.  Republicans often complain about homeowner's insurance, too, so surely they would be willing to admit that insurance companies should be subject to antitrust regulations.  I also thought--what if we offer a government *option* for social service workers?  I interviewed for a job with a shelter, and I would have insurance, but even if married or if I had a child, I would have to pay for theirs with no help.  Of course, this would scare someone off from a social service job.  If we said, "These people serve their country.  Why can't we help these financially struggling services?" maybe then people would slowly get more used to the idea of gov't healthcare.

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It takes a lot of courage to go to a Town Hall meeting these days considering the high level of conflict just waiting to happen. I believe that there are people placed there by republican/healthcare operatives who are paid to disrupt any rational discussion and bring the discussion back to the big lies such as "death panels" and rationing of health care.
I agree that I think there are 'plants.' I mean, it is easy to stir up such a crowd.
"The condescension that these middle and working class people have for their imaginary version of the distant poor is the condescension that many wealthy people and corporations have for them."

I loved this line, Delia. You have such a courageous heart. I really hope things start looking up for you all over there.
Your meeting shows once again that fake Republicans (Dumocrats) elect real Republicans every time.

And you might want to see the differences between Oregon and Mississippi town hall meetings in my most recent post. Thank you & rated.
Well, I can completely relate to this as I'm not too far from you. I encounter the same on a regular basis and it's every bit as maddening. It really is overwhelming and depressing to be awash in such stupidity and hatred.

But I'll say this, I don't think there are much in the way of "plants" in these crowds down here because they just don't need them. The locals are bad enough all on their own.

Old new lefty's point in these comments rings true. When my wife and I were in Oregon last fall, a few weeks before the election, it was like we had died and gone to heaven. Not only was the weather better but the people seemed so much more sedate, even-keeled and rational. I hear people say all the time that "no place is better than another" and they "all have their problems" (which is true to greater and lesser extents) but unless you've been down here "in the heat of the night," it's hard for most folks to relate.

You're one brave lady. Rated.
Thanks for this detailed, thoughtful, and ultimately, depressing report from the front lines Delia. If the average person saw as clearly as you obviously do, as many of my friends here in OS do, there might be some hope for meaningful reform. The sad truth though, as near as I can see it, is that this battle was lost before it even began; it was a battle that the Democratic leadership (the ones in Congress I mean) didn't ever have an interest in winning.

"They are so transfixed on the fear that someone poorer would take something of theirs or that the evil government will hurt them, that they CAN'T see corporations and the rich taking from them. The condescension that these middle and working class people have for their imaginary version of the distant poor is the condescension that many wealthy people and corporations have for them. The poor are not as dangerous to them as the wealthy. Their death panels are as real as Santa Claus.

"FoxNews, Rush Limbaugh, Big Pharma are not their friends. Some of this they see, but they are blind to most of it. They fear Obama, and he isn't perfect, but why weren't they protesting Bush? Where were they for 8 years?"

With an electorate as uninformed, apathetic, and easily fooled as ours is, democracy in America is pretty much dead in the water. That's a depressing thing to accept, but the more I look the more that's what I see.
Excellent job of reporting Delia. We're so screwed, God we're so screwed:(
I wish someone would declare a moratorium on stupidity, fear and ignorance.
To begin, this has to be one of the best write ups concerning the front lines that I have seen to date. You have done a fantastic job here. I hope you know that :)

I think I've said everything I'm going to say concerning this subject. I feel like a club fighter who has gone fifteen rounds with a heavyweight contender. I have written about this tirelessly for what seems like forever although it's only been several months, not only on this blog, but on other sites.

And with all the moaning and bitching I have done on behalf of what I think is right, I have yet to find an answer to fix the mess everyone is in.

The Republicans may be in the minority, but you have to give them credit for their solidarity. If there's one defining factor in all of this is that when Republicans are against something, for the most part, they're all against it..even if they think it's wrong.

There are days I feel like taking a nap and waking up in 2025.
To begin, this has to be one of the best write ups concerning the front lines that I have seen to date. You have done a fantastic job here. I hope you know that :)

I think I've said everything I'm going to say concerning this subject. I feel like a club fighter who has gone fifteen rounds with a heavyweight contender. I have written about this tirelessly for what seems like forever although it's only been several months, not only on this blog, but on other sites.

And with all the moaning and bitching I have done on behalf of what I think is right, I have yet to find an answer to fix the mess everyone is in.

The Republicans may be in the minority, but you have to give them credit for their solidarity. If there's one defining factor in all of this is that when Republicans are against something, for the most part, they're all against it..even if they think it's wrong.

There are days I feel like taking a nap and waking up in 2025.
Dear me. I don't blame you for leaving early. I could barely read the whole thing. These people want something to be angry about and have been primed by the crazy right-wing media machine. You may want to move, but I will tell you that in central New York it's the same exact thing, kind of. There are pockets of progressives here and there, but Bill Clinton came to speak at Hamilton college, and while everyone from the college wanted to hear him speak, none of the townspeople did. His name was mud as far as they were concerned. Same with the small towns in Oregon. Went to Hood River to buy apples last fall and all over the place, McCain signs. I can only surmise that these people are just used to being lied to and like it. During all of this healthcare thing I keep wondering if Obama should have tackled media monopolies first. From what you say in your small town hall, it seems these people just want an excuse to hate Obama and elevate their idiot Fox and Friends to genius status and for that you just have to ignore the facts. Disheartening to say the least, but I admire you for your bravery (once again) in telling people to listen. Good for you.
Fundamental Christianity is NOT based on good works. Its on how hard you pray, believe that you are saved and how loud you proselytize and Evangelize . Its a very selfish thing.
Very well written. It evokes the place and the atmosphere.
I know, I know, Delia. It makes me very depressed sometimes, this stupidity of the poor so enthuastically supporting the Right. Thanks for going to the meeting. We need all the voices of reason at the town halls as we can get.
@ latethink- With all due respect, I find your summation of Hood River, OR to be puzzling. We were there last October and wouldn't describe what we saw in quite the same way.

We came in from the south on Mt. Hood Highway and headed north through the Hood River Valley and to the Gorge. We did in fact see McCain signs and noticed them right away because we had been immersed in a sea of blue Obama signs the previous few days in Portland. However, I distinctly remember my wife and I discussed the fact that there were still a fair number of Obama signs to be found in that rural setting and that was hardly case back home in coastal Alabama. Maybe you and I were in different places or it's all perception, but I find it intriguing in either case.

I'm just glad my wife has a job that allows us the ability to get out there occasionally. The change of scenery is always good.
You're probably right that they wouldn't need to plant people to further stir up the crowd, but I wonder. :)
You're a good citizen Delia for enduring this. I'm sure you had a good idea of what you were walking into beforehand.
Sounds to me like a pretty good cross section of 'mericans attended. I've said before and will repeat we (as a whole) are pretty darned dim and so easily brainwashed.
It is sooooo disheartening to see the schmear campaigns orchestrated by the mega-corps work on the majority of the population, and so easily.
Outstanding reportage, Delia, and what guts to go and even listen! I felt like I was there, feeling it with you - thanks for doing it, on behalf of us all.
Delia
I read this and felt an overwhelming melancholy reemerge. This has been a long August for idiot rhetoric, paranoia and ignorance. It's time for those politicians who advocate for change to stand up and do something. Thank you for directing to this post. And thank you for braving the crowd. rAted!
Great post Delia. I'm amazed at the level of paranoia and ignorance in the people who show up to inarticulate their thoughts. Yes, "inarticulate", like the woman that Barney Frank owned on TV today. I say do as Barney did and give them no credit. Some talking head Republican was on MSNBC saying that what Franks said wasn't constructive! HAHAHA Motherfucking HA! Stop, and think about that for just a second...

Rated
Delia, excellent reporting! You are a brave lady! I know exactly what you mean about the "locals." I'm in Arkansas and cna't believe even what some of my friends are saying! Good Christians? I don't think so....... This is becoming insane! Thank you for this and your Southern bravery!
This is so well done, Delia! Congratulations on doing such a brave act, and on you well earned EP!
I'm impressed by your willingness to listen - and by your compassion for your family and people in need.
Wow this is detailed and powerful but the essence of what you saw is boiled down to this statement:

I had come to the meeting considering asking a question, but I saw there was no reasoning with anyone.
Delia, super post. I'm from Mississippi (now in FL), and I tell ya the only difference in the town meeting I wrote about and this one is that mine was earlier, so there were less sound bytes for them to yell about. And now that I look back on it, the crowd (though rude) was not nearly the mob scene they've become recently. FL is **in** the South, but it is **not**typically Southern.

I also don't believe that plants of actual people are necessary in many cases. Glen Beck and Rush and our friends at FoxNews are the source of the minsinformative fuel needed to stoke the fire of the natives. My parents are perfect examples. They are really good people. Although we were not a church-y family, they taught me to be generous and to try to do the right thing, and overall they taught me that honesty was the best policy. I know they are distrustful of the government. But why they aren't distrustful of the people who've been getting rich off the current system, as well as people who are merely using this media blitz as a way to make even more money...I just don't get it. I don't understand how good-hearted people can take a "screw the poor" approach, but it is what it is. Needless to say, if I wish to have any sort of relationship with my parents, I can NOT talk about anything like this anymore.
wow, i so admire your stamina and heart in staying there as long as you did. and your huge heart for all of those for whom you care. this is so freaking scary. this is what happens when people are scared, when they fear change, when the fear-mongers do such a brilliant job. i have my own opinions about all of this, of course. but i've come here late. sorry, delia dee. i ususaly get here early for your posts, love. love love lvoe and HUGE gratitude for your gorgeous writing and clear clear thinking and for knowing how to present all of this when the guy presenting so did not.
what concerns me deeply is that so many Americans are enthusiastically believing out and out lies. not misrepresentations. not misunderstood facts but LIES. I don't understand it. it makes no sense. is it because "it's on tv, so it must be true."? mentality or is it simply because this "philosophy" or whatever you want to call it, at it's core allows them to feel spite, hate and meanness towards others. I can't blame Fox entirely. if I watch Fox I can see the garbage. so there's the element of WANTING to believe, having justification for all your worst impulses.

I used to believe my fellow Americans would share their last piece of bread with someone less fortunate, but lately I wonder.
50 million without health insurance and no revolution. that's how dumb they are.
Good on you, Delia, for even going.

I went to a teaparty on the 4th of July and had my eyes opened a lot. But at least there wasn't this crazed mania that is now going on at the Town Halls.

I'm disheartened.

On an up note, I heard on the radio this morning Jesse Jackson Jr. held a Town Hall in south Chicago which was well attended by those interested in discourse; and those For health care reform. I need to go research it, but the sound bites I heard were encouraging.
thank you for this. good post.
I know how much work goes into a post like this . . . you did a fantastic job, D.
Delia, I just saw your town hall meeting covered on the BBC!!! You're famous, even though I looked and looked for you standing next to the wall at the back and couldn't find you.

But think about it; your meeting was on the Bee Bee Cee!

On the other hand, they focused on how the crowd cheered when Gene said he wasn't for Obama's plan:(

But on the third hand, you're famous!

I'm so confused:P
Wow!!! So well said. EP deserved. I had my car inspected today at what used to be a Chrysler dealership. Big mistake I had on a Obama T-shirt. I was given a chilly reception even though I have bought all my cars and had all my work done there for at least 10 years. At first I didn't realize what was going on. Then I got the lectures that we chose the wrong president. It's his fault they lost the dealership. It's his fault Chrysler went bankrupt. It's his fault that their taxes are going to go up. I was even told that the only way the US could solve their problems was to elect Sarah Palin in 2012. I don't think I will go back there. This was all said by employees, not the owner but I don't think contacting him would do any good. I tried to attend a town hall hosted by Arlen Spector but it was cancelled because the one the day before was so nasty. Thanks agiain for your thoughtful post. Rated, of course.
It’s taken me a while to get here, but I’m thrilled to see this getting some much-deserved attention! This is wonderfully written with all sorts of telling details, like this hilarious sentence:
“She was showing off her belt buckle--bought at a gun show--which had the barrel of a gun engraved on it and pointed outward at innocent bystanders.”

I also appreciated this kernel of wisdom, which identifies so succinctly the sleight-of-hand propaganda that has blinded the unwitting in this debate:

“They are so transfixed on the fear that someone poorer would take something of theirs or that the evil government will hurt them, that they CAN'T see corporations and the rich taking from them.”

Let those who have ears to hear indeed LISTEN. Thank you, Delia, for this terribly revealing peek into a town hall meeting in everyday America.

—Melissa
Excellent reporting - thank you so much for this post. You're writing is staccato bump for bump to what the confused are supporting. Well deserved EP. It's hard to witness this when we see so much need in this America - yet be forced to watch it get torn down by those who need the change the most. Sincere and heartfelt rate ~

peece,
dj
You're my new OS hero Delia. Thank you for being there--that even though we're not in the same state--you were there for me and for all of those of us who think and act for others. What a beautiful post, and what contrast to all the harpy screeching going on by those that are duped into thinking that insurance and pharma companies are on their side. What a light you are, uncovered in the midst of mindnumbing darkness. Thank you.
Did it ever occur to you that the attendees may have been upset with Bush and his policies as well, and that is the reason for the uproar?

You state that you are 'unemployed'. Do you think that the taxpayers bailing out banks, auto industry, Cap & Trade and now healthcare will promote business and assist you in obtaining a job? Hey, the federal government is one of the only 'businesses' hiring, I hear the pay, job security and benefits are great!!!

While I am not an economist, I do read and listen as to what many economists state will stimulate this economy. Cutting taxes and allowing the economy to fix itself after the tax cuts would allow businesses to open and for established businesses to grow!! This is what history has taught us again and again. BAILOUTS AND TAKEOVERS DO NOT!!! They only increase our debt!!! Of course, the fed is continuing to print money (which devalues the dollar) and now (tax cheat) T. Guithner has requested the debt ceiling be raised. Please explain to me how these actions will stimulate growth??

While it is easy to blame GWB (btw, I'm not a fan), we must all remember it was a democRATic congress he was dealing with during his tenure. You are absolutely correct that Medicare Part D is a fiasco and should never been instituted!! But we all must remember why these happen!! It is the PACs and special interest groups who 'buy' our elected officials. The drug companies have a very strong lobby and probably have most of our elected officials in their pockets (can you say junket?)

Personally I think all incumbents need to be thrown out in 2010 & 2012 and we should NOT continue to elect 'career politicians'. I know that sounds like blasphemy to some, but honestly, beginning with a 'clean slate' is the only way our country can survive.

While a utopia in which 'government takes care of me from cradle to the grave' is the mantra on this site, I would like to know how everyone thinks these programs will be paid? Do you honestly think you will have a choice in the care you receive? If you do, you had better get a patent on what you are smoking and start selling it folks, maybe that way you'll be able to pay the taxes AND have a great income to boot.

I think it is time for everyone to open their eyes and wake up to what is happening before it's too late!!! Don't get caught up in the us vs them mentality. We are all in this together folks!!!
This wouldn't be so depressing if it was confined to Mississippi. The sad truth is though, you can see these kind of people, and the politicians who use them, from coast to coast.
The ignorance of people is appalling. And we got a dose of it from pursuit of happiness right here.

I can tell what economists you've been listening to, just by you spouting the myth that's been exposed that tax cuts stimulate the economy. Remember that check for $600 we all got? Sure kept the economy from going into recession, right? Oh, it didn't? Tax hikes kill the economy? Well, that was what right wing nuts like Art Laffer (how anyone books him without pointing out how WRONG he has been for decades is beyond me) said when Clinton did it, and we had the longest expansion of the economy in the 20th century and we created 22 million new jobs.

Bailouts and takeovers do not stimulate growth? Well, that's because they're not supposed to. Duh. Do you even have a clue about WHY the government stepped in with the TARP and with the bailout of the car manufacturers? Hint, hint. It wasn't to stimulate growth.

When you can answer those questions, then we can talk about economics. Until then, you are the dining room table that Barney Frank alluded to in his takedown of the Obama is a Nazi twit.
To Pursuit--
You don't know me or my circumstances, so don't presume to. I never said how I felt about bailouts. What I dislike about the Rx drug plan is that it wouldn't allow Medicare to get the cheapest drugs. People do need some kind of help with their prescriptions. My mom, who has a pension and retirement, is on one medicine that is over $800 month. No other medicine works, and there is no generic. That is criminal, but you and Big Pharma probably wouldn't care if she died in the street.
Millions have lost jobs and suffer in the jobs that they hang on to, so don't pick on me. Millions of people who HAVE insurance are not fully covered and are dropped when the insurance decides to drop them. Are you blind, deaf, and dumb? Go to TheBarkingLot4 and read a story of someone who has paid for insurance since 1995, needs a liver transplant, and is being dropped by her insurance. What other insurance will take her? She can lose her life savings or die. This is America.
About the crowd and Bush--I was there and I saw how they got so mad if anyone said that *anything* Bush did was wrong. They were rabid. You were not there. These were the majority of the tea partiers---THEY DID NOTHING TO PROTEST BUSH, BUT NOW THEY CARE. They are stirred up by stupid lies like "death panels." They want their Medicare, believe me, but they can't seem to understand how it's paid for. And if the elderly were at the mercy of insurance companies with the power those companies have today, that same crowd would go crazy at the medical bills they couldn't pay for themselves or their parents. Notice how they didn't want to admit how little MS puts in to taxes versus what they get back.
I do not believe that Obama or Democrats are perfect. I mentioned that Clinton and a Republican Congress allowed the insurance industry to no longer be subject to anti-trust regulation. Again, you don't know me at all, so don't pretend you do.
In the future, find somewhere else to spew your crap.
Sheesh. That meeting did sound depressing. Great post, though, and you delineated the problems very well. I'm worried that this scenario is all too common, however.
I despair of the fact the mentality that you witnessed at this town hall is no longer corralled in the south but can be witnessed at town halls all over the country.
I despair of the fact the mentality that you witnessed at this town hall is no longer corralled in the south but can be witnessed at town halls all over the country.