So the national health care debate is moving to the local level, so to speak, as the congressional recess brings our representatives back home to "get in touch" with constituents. Toward that end, some will have open forums where people will be able to ask questions and state their own opinions, in hopes the Capitol Hill gang will return to work in a state of enlightenment, having taken a break from the normal barrage of special-interest lobbyists coming to call.
This is a good idea, but it can be skewed by organized efforts to dominate such conversations with the views of one side or another. And apparently, according to some news reports, opponents of heatlh-care reform, or at least the type of reform proposed by President Obama, have really tried to stir up grass roots opposition, which may manifest itself at these public meetings.
All folks are entitled to their opinions, of course, and that's fine. But if these members of Congress are bombarded by just one side of this debate, it's really not going to help much with that Enligthenment Thing. Particularly if the opponents of reform speak, shall we say, at full volume. Polls (I know, I know...I'm not crazy about 'em either...) show that views of health-care reform are all over the lot. There's nothing about it, in other words, that is unanimous.
Here's hoping for a civilized back and forth, not a shouting match. I think if I were a congressman, and I came to a forum and was getting hit by a fairly one-sided view, I might be a little suspicious.
Members of Congress, of course, know that some folks are happy, some folks are fairly content and some folks are mad. They expect some confrontation when they venture forth. I once attended a forum some years back where people in the audience were standing and shouting and shaking their fists at a multi-term incumbent. I asked the fellow later, tongue in cheek, "How do you take it? Aren't you ever tempted to roll up the shirtsleeves and just wade out there?"
His reponse: "It's part of the job. People have a right to be heard."