Town Halls Gone Wild – the Local Angle

One of the stories we’re working on for the weekend is a discussion of the ongoing health care debate and how our elected officials will get feedback from their constituents. Especially since what Congress could do with health care could be the most significant economic action since Medicare or Social Security, it would seem there would be a lot of interest in our reps hearing from you.

There’s a problem, though. At some recent town hall events the right has resorted to the shout down. I don’t know that it’s a fair comment to say that it’s happening at a lot of them, but there is video. I’ll post a couple after the jump.

The left is arguing that this is an organized effort to harass members of Congress who might support health care reform.

I did see at least one memo from a more conservative organization telling people to not shout.

They are not happy, however, that U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, has held his town halls over the phone. Angie Vogt, an editor at Red County wrote (The uppercase “shouting” is her own):

“Meeting with Jay Inslee at YOUR HOUSE. Take time to ask informed questions and be firm. Nothing is to be gained by screaming–not that you would. ***and JUST SO YOU KNOW, INSLEE IS DEEP INTO THIS SOCIALIZED HEALTH CARE AND IT’S TYPICAL THAT HE DOESN’T HAVE THE COURAGE TO ACTUALLY COME HOME TO WASHINGTON STATE AND DISCUSS THIS WITH US.”

Kitsap Republicans have invited members to an Inslee telephone town hall tonight, despite their contention that one he held last week was a “waste of time.”

I’m also getting word that there was some recent nastiness at the Theler Center in Belfair that might illustrate what’s happening around the country. I don’t have details yet.

Vogt is probably correct that there is nothing to be gained from screaming. If nothing else, it gives representatives a reason to not discuss the matter in person, since the shouting makes a conversation impossible.

Democrats are saying the demonstrations won’t derail the town halls.

This video is from an event in Texas and doesn’t provide any context into what all the shouting was about. It was apparently started when the congressman said he’d vote for a health care solution even if a poll of his constituents showed they were against it. The fact that the congressman represents a pretty liberal district in Austin makes the question kind of moot, but not for the shouters. Many on the left are arguing that the protesters were bused in from parts elsewhere.

This video has a lot more context. Unfortunately, the most classic moment is at the very end. When the audience is told the Senate bill hasn’t been written yet, someone in the audience yells, “or read.”

Brilliant observation.

5 thoughts on “Town Halls Gone Wild – the Local Angle

  1. My anger IS NOT manufactured. The left is accusing others of using
    the very tactics they perfected against any conservative cause.

  2. Last nights’ town hall was very boring. It was done by phone, letting me know that either Mr. Inslee does not have the time for his constituents or he doesn’t care. The callers were all very polite and thanked him for doing it. The callers also had a problem with just asking a question, opting rather to preface their questions with a short bio of themselves or a situation, thus keeping more callers from getting questions asked/answered.

    I am a Democrat. Maybe not for much longer, but for now I am. I do not see the fact that people are getting upset about their futures as a result of being Conservative, Liberal or anything else. I see it as Americans seeing through a smoke and mirrors policy and actually asking questions. I do see fear from the legislators. They are hiding from the people who have elected them. My personal opinion is they are hiding because they know that what they are doing is not in the best interest of the people. Politicians for at least the last 20 or so years have never had the peoples’ best interests at hand. There is always an underlying (emphasis on the LYING part) agenda.

    Our current Congress is a lot of COWARDS that have forgotten how to serve their public. They want us to fear them rather than the other way around. That might work on the half of society who have been vaginized but there are still those of us out here who will never be afraid. I will be favoring strong independents from here on out. Party lines do nothing but serve themselves at a buffet paid for by the taxpayers.

  3. First of all, thank you for shining some light on this topic. It is nice to see somebody in the Media reporting ‘real’ news for a change.

    I do have to laugh at ‘an organized effort to harass members of congress’. They are our Representatives. The are paid (and paid well) to listen to us so that they may, properly, represent us. Heaven forbid we speak our mind and disagree with something they shove under our nose especially when they haven’t even read the bill themselves. Is it ‘harassment’ to ask them to DO THEIR JOB?? I think not. We The People need to start holding our Electeds accountable; not doing so is what got us where we are now.

    Jay Inslee’s “Town Hall” last night was ridiculous. It was a ‘listen in’ more than anything else.
    It must be nice to have your aides give you prescreened questions then be able to hang up on the caller while you give your answer.

    8 questions in under an hour – that’s it.
    When told “Government needs to work on getting a handle on debt instead of spending more,” Inslee was quick to blame the status quo and say that the big driver for our deficit is Medicare Costs.

    His closing comments:
    “I learned a couple of things tonight listening to you, and I hope the bill will include some of the ideas we discussed tonight.”
    “If you didn’t get called on to ask a question, send your question in an email to or call 1-800-226-7144.”
    “There were 9,000 people on this call tonight.”

    How many ‘for’ and how many ‘against’? If it had been a “real” Town Hall he might have a better picture of what his constituents really want.

    Norm Dicks hasn’t scheduled any Town Hall Meetings.
    Reichert is having a “Phone Town Hall” today.
    Larsen will have 3 LIVE – IN PERSON Town Hall Meetings; the first being tonight at 6pm in Coupeville, Wa that I might consider driving to (although I would at least give him credit for being the only one brave enough in our state to do this).

    I think that our Representatives are scared to face us and I am about sick of not being “represented” by them. This is NOT what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote our Constitution. Americans everywhere are tired of it.

    Shouting probably isn’t the best way to handle it but when you are passionate and you feel that you haven’t been heard sometimes you feel like you have to yell just to get their attention.

    No more Nanny State; it is time to wipe the board clean and vote out those who are not doing their job or have been in office too long (a-hem, Mr. Dicks).

    Conservatives, Liberals, Independents, everyone needs to wake up and just be a Patriot, an American, pay attention to right and wrong not right and left.

    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

    FYI- A Good YouTube Town Hall to watch is of a US Soldier who demands an apology from Senator McCaskill at their Town Hall

  4. It is interesting that most of the “protesters” are on Medicare and Social Security, government-run entitlements that they don’t realize are “social” programs and which they would not give up.

    It is interesting too that the Texas congressman said he would vote for the bill even if a poll showed his constituents were against it. I think this is to discourage the “shouters” who have been recruited to discourage the debates. All constituents are not being given a chance to inquire about and debate the bill, so the shouting tactic may backfire as other regressive tactics of the far right have.

    The bill will extend the kind of benefits that the Congress and other Federal employees have such as: no waiting periods, no limitations, no exclusions from coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc. If the bill is derailed again as it was in 1997, again people will have cut their nose off to spite their face.

    The insurance companies are doing everything to derail the bill: misrepresenting the bill and putting fear into people, etc.

    Port Orchard, WA

  5. Just where are YOU getting this “the Right” is shutting down the town halls??? Typical media- all of those grannies getting mad are members of the ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ as Hilary called them when the public was enraged at her socialized healthcare attempt fifteen years ago (aka Hilarycare)???

    And just when are WE going to get our chance to be heard here in Kitsap by our Reps? Or is it more like we have to listen to them and understand why they know better than we do? I have yet to see any have the guts to schedule a town hall to explain themselves, but then, perhaps they are above that?

    When Congress gets off of their platinum health & retirement plans and makes themselves subject to medicare, social security, and this current health care ‘plan’, maybe they’ll start to gain some shred of credibility with the general public. Until then, anything less will be met with a fighting public from all walks of life- not just the ‘right’.

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