Town hall meeting
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
A man in the crowd tells McCain how it is…
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), who represents what is considered by some to be a toss-up district, doesn’t want to hear what his constituents have to say, according to this letter in the Asheville Citizen-Times:
I had the opportunity to speak with Rep. Heath Shuler at a military veteran’s luncheon on Aug. 26. I asked why he doesn’t have face-to- face Town Hall meetings. He replied “I am not going to waste my time having a bunch of people yelling at me at town hall meetings.”
I asked him why he voted against amendments to remove earmarks from legislation. He answered, “This is how the system works.” After a few more questions, he walked away.
This fall, Shuler will present himself as a Blue Dog conservative, reminding us that he voted against TARP, stimulus and health care bills. However, Shuler only voted “no” after each bill had enough votes to pass. He withheld his vote to the last minute, in my opinion, just in case Pelosi needed it. Do not be fooled by Shuler’s ads. He is a big-government liberal. It is time to change the system and players, including this one.
The Heritage Foundation recently parodied a congressman asking his staffers for reasons and excuses he could use to avoid doing townhall meetings with his constituents. Who would have guess that Shuler would come off sounding like the only honest guy in the group?
At a recently town hall meeting, a well-informed and knowledgeable constituent asked Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) how health care can be a “right” when it requires that another individual to give their time, their energy, their knowledge and their labor,” comparing such a right to slavery, which she points out was banned by the Thirteenth Amendment. She also asked what limitations exist on the federal government’s ability to tell citizens how to run our private lives.
Stark stumbled around for a moment, but was pressed by the constituent on the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution. Rep. Stark replied, “Yes, the federal government can do most anything in this country.” Such is the mind of the statist.
Here is the exchange:
To avoid a scene similiar to last summer, Democrats are avoiding town hall meetings during breaks from Congress:
With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.
And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube.
For incumbents of both parties facing challenging re-election bids, few things receive more scrutiny than how, when and where they interact with voters. Many members of Congress err on the side of being visible, but not too visible, and make only a few public appearances while they are back in their districts.
The Times offers several examples of Democratic Members of Congress in toss-up or swing districts who are avoiding voters:
In Maryland, where Mr. Kratovil endured considerable heckling last year over the health care legislation, which he ultimately opposed, he did not hold any large gatherings with voters. After returning from a visit to Afghanistan, he held two events with veterans before arriving at an evening discussion here at the credit union in Bel Air, north of Baltimore.
US Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) refused to take a question from a guy at a town hall meeting in his district until he provided his ID to prove that he is a constituent:
Stephen Vasil, a reader, attended Rep. Jim Marshall’s town hall meeting last night in Forsyth, Georgia. He was kind enough to send in his report of the event.
Jim Marshall held a town hall meeting this evening in Forsyth to discuss healthcare reform and current issues. Approximately five hundred concerned citizens were in attendance.
Marshall opened the meeting stating he opposed all five current healthcare reform bills in the Congress and Senate. He said, “American people don’t like the current healthcare system because of two bureaucrats.” The two bureaucrats that he alluded to were the government and health insurance companies. He also offered that the current Veterans Administration health care system is effective because patient surveys in this government ran system have been proven to be twice as good as non-government ran hospital surveys. He added that this is “why we should not totally be against government regulated healthcare.”
When questioned about where he received this information by a meeting attendee, he ignored the question and quickly moved on to the next question. One attendee asked, “Will PAYGO eventually lead to rationing of healthcare services.” He replied, “No” and would not listen to this person’s next question.
Another question raised by the crowd was from a concerned physician, “If the finances were available, would you support any of the five healthcare reform bills”? Marshall replied, “No.”
Nearing the end of the meeting another citizen asked, “You have replied No, that you disagree with all of the current healthcare bills, but you have not told us what kind of bill you would support.” Marshall simply stated he would support any bill that would not increase the current debt of the country because that would not be a good steward of America’s money.”
At the end of the meeting I finally got the chance to ask the question that had been lingering in my head through the night. I asked, “Tonight, you have said you are a member of the Blue Dog Democrats, but you have proven to not be fiscally conservative by voting for HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and HR 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, therefore you are liar and you need to apologize to all of these people here for lying to them about being concerned about America’s financial debt.”
As, you would expect, he responded very sternly that, “he has a strong character which he must uphold when answering this question and he does not appreciated being called a liar. He also said he does not need to apologize to anyone.” He then ranted and raved over the TARP bill and how he not only voted for the bill, but he strongly PUSHED for this bill to be passed.”
Throughout the night it was noticed by several attendees that he was very rude and short with almost every question asked. He talked to the citizens which he states he is working for like two year old peons. The crowd was distraught over the way he disrespected the citizens taking their time to express concerns.
In a nut-shell, I want someone in office who acts as though they are working to serve us and not someone who treats us like we don’t know what in the hell we are talking about. Then again, that is just my opinion.