We’ve heard from a decent number of readers what their town-hall meetings were like, from the constituents’ side. Now NRO reader Rep. Mary Fallin (R., Okla.) offers an assessment of how one of her constituent meetings went, from her perspective:
Since NRO is posting accounts of town halls from around the country, it might be helpful to get a report from one member of Congress who held one.
I invited residents of Oklahoma’s Fifth District to a town hall on Thursday evening. We scheduled it in a large room designed for about 500 people, but it filled to capacity 30 minutes before the start time, with another 700 or more waiting at the doors. I immediately asked our hosts if they could extend the evening and they agreed, so we held a double-header, filling the room twice with back-to-back town halls. Police estimated that as many as 3,000 people showed up, with some leaving before the second session. I stayed to speak with them and answer questions for almost four hours.
Attendees were polite and civil throughout, expressing their worries about a number of issues, with the focus on health care reform. Judging from applause, signs people were holding and the randomly selected questioners, the ratio of those against Obamacare to those in favor was at least 10-1. The biggest crowd reactions came when I showed them the amazingly complex chart describing the House Democrats’ bill, and when I hefted the bill itself. Mentioning Barney Frank’s admission that the public option is really a back door to single payer nationalized health care also drew some hearty boos, and I don’t think the Marine veteran who asked a question about Korean War veterans and their widows took too kindly to the suggestion by Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer that people there were “un-American.”
The only brown shirts I saw were the Boy Scouts in the color guard. It was an honor and a thrill to spend the evening with so many Oklahomans who are clearly concerned about the most important public issue of our time.
It seems quite a few bill opponents in Congress are having similar experiences — big turnout, lots of passion, but not quite so confrontational, for obvious reasons.