Town Hall Double Standards

10 Feb 2017 02:02 pm
Posted by: Donna

Remember back in the summer of 2009, when members of Congress of both parties held town hall meetings with constituents about health care reform, and there were loud protesters at all them, but especially at the ones held by Democrats?

And remember how that same summer Ann Kirkpatrick, who was serving her first term in Congress held a small event at a Safeway in Holbrook, AZ, that was not supposed to be a town hall but a lot of people turned up anyway and were angry and shouting at her and she and others feared for her safety so she walked out? Footage of that walking out was used in attack ads against Kirkpatrick in 2010 and every subsequent time she ran for election or reelection, including in her 2016 Senate race seven years later.

Think about that when you see this quote from a New York Magazine piece on a “rowdy” town hall led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz spotted by Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte.

Can you imagine the uproar from the Right, plus the heavy dose of tone policing by the MSM, that would have ensued had Ann Kirkpatrick (or Harry Mitchell or any other Dem) not only refused to hold meetings with constituents, but also described those who opposed them ideologically as “extremists, kooks, and radicals”? I know you can. And as Marcotte notes, the people Rep. Duncan are describing this way (and you can verify this for yourself watching video) are people scared of losing health care.

I went to some of those town halls in 2009, and several Tea Party gatherings that year and in 2010 as an observer for blog or campaign purposes. Despite it being during the depth of the recession most of the participants appeared to be well-nourished and comfortable. Outside of the comically ironic “keep your government hands off my Medicare” signs you’d often see, most of the protest was incoherent anger over “taxes” and “spending”. And, you know, some signs with President Obama with a bone through his nose and asking where his birth certificate was. The kind of stuff some of us liberals ruefully joke about as Economic Anxiety™. And, oh man, did I meet some people at them with extremely kooky and radical views!

The people going to town halls now and yelling at people like Jason Chaffetz (and I can think of few people more deserving of being yelled at) are being characterized as the “Tea Party of the Left” and I suppose that’s inevitable since there’s yelling involved, even though the moral difference the two groups is huge (former wanted to deny people health care and the latter wants them to have it).

If we’re the Tea Party of the Left so be it but that means we deserve to be heard by our representatives on health care as much as our counterparts did back in 2009. If they’re too chickenshit to meet with us (oh hi Martha McSally) we should hold public meetings without them and get reporters to cover those meetings (as they did in article I just linked about McSally).

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