We should all be careful as the debate about healthcare rages on in Washington and across the United States in the next few weeks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent her chamber home for the summer recess with a list of talking points to respond to constituents’ questions about pending healthcare legislation.
However, traditionally sleepy town hall meetings have become rowdy shout-fests across the nation with opponents hanging members in effigy and mocking them with Nazi and devil imagery in an effort to derail discussions of healthcare.
Part of the problem at the town hall meetings have come from conservative think tanks like FreedomWorks, which offers tips on how to disrupt a meeting (“Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early,” says one) and helped in some cases by anti-tax “Tea Party” sympathizers.
That is a shame.
These town hall meetings, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, were designed as an opportunity for local citizenry to come out and have frank discussions with their representatives about real issues of the day.
They were not intended for screaming yahoos to interrupt the process of giving the honest voting public information to make decisions.
Yes, it is a free country.
And yes, last time I checked, freedom of speech was still in effect.
Still and yet, these are serious times, and no one should be forcing their opinion on anyone else, regardless of whether you are a member of a right-wing political organization or a member of Congress.
Real people are wanting real answers about a real subject: healthcare.
There is not one person in American who should not be concerned about the potential changes to the healthcare system in this country.
It, unlike many political footballs, has a direct effect on every single person reading this column and in this country.
I suspect most of the people, for or against the current proposals, would like to have an honest exchange with policy makers from their hometown.
The process, one would hope, should educate everyone involved.
Shouting matches educate no one and only fuel the fire of extremists looking to make a name for themselves.
Let’s be thoughtful.
And while we are at it, let’s think about what’s right for the country, as a whole — every man, woman and child in all 50 states.
I’m not naive. I know it’s all about politics.
But is that really what it should be about.
How about focusing on healthcare?
How about focusing on the financial impact?
How about having a calm, intelligent conversation about the issues.
That would be a welcome scene.
Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.