Ten days ago I was contacted to see if I would come to Kentucky to participate in a citizen-generated town hall meeting about Obamacare that was being hastily organized by the wives of two Louisville physicians. Arrangements were agreed upon for me to keynote after presentations were made by several prominent area physicians about their concerns with the plan, and then for us all to participate in an extended Q and A with the audience.
So, last night at about 6:30, I took the elevator down from my room at a local Holiday Inn expecting to speak to maybe, 100 people. Was I wrong! The place was overflowing with concerned Kentucky citizens. As I took the dais, the ballroom filled and the hotel employees opened a sliding partition and began to quickly bring more chairs to the second room. This too filled up quickly, and soon it was standing room only, with people standing along the walls, flowing out the doors, sitting in the aisles. If there had been trees, people would have climbed them. I estimate that there were at least 1000 people present for an event that had only been conceived two weeks before.
For three hours we discussed Obamacare. Most were opposed and had questions, reasonable questions too. They had been paying attention. The moderator asked if anyone in the audience supported the bill. A small number of hands went up. He asked if any would like to speak in support of the bill and a woman gave an impassioned comment about how hard it is to get health insurance for her austic son. She was applauded by the rest, who understood the courage it took to be a minority voice about such a volatile topic.
These were real grass roots, not “AstroTurf” in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sniffing term. People had not been bussed by orgnaizations. In fact, the event wasn’t put on by any organization although The Family Foundation of Kentucky and a few others helped publicize it. But it was clear to me that people showed up because they are very engaged as citizens about one of the most important domestic policy initiatives in recent times. It was America as America should be. I was proud.
Little did I know that all of us–except the supporters of the bill–are “evil mongers” according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. From the story:
Town hall protesters are “evil-mongers,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Reid coined the term in a speech to an energy conference in Las Vegas this week and repeated it in an interview with Politics Daily. Such “evil-mongers” are using “lies, innuendo and rumor,” to drown out rational debate, Reid said.
“It was an original with me,” Reid said of the term. “I maybe could have been less descriptive,” he said, adding that “I doubt you’ll hear it from me again.”
Wow, is he clever! We are so lucky to be led by such an erudite thinker.
Reid aside, it was an amazing evening. I think this issue may have actually changed the country’s political paradigm.