(Claire Moses, professor of women’s studies at the University of Maryland, describes the town hall meeting on health care held by Democratic Rep. Jim Moran in Reston, Virginia, on August 25. Sounds pretty wild! Note that even when progressives make up the majority of the audience, the antis steal the show.–KP)
I just came from a Town Hall Meeting run by our congressional representative (Jim Moran, a progressive–favors the public option, etc.). He had Howard Dean with him to give a pep talk and to answer questions. One thing that the friends I was with all mentioned was that we have never been at such a political event where opposing sides were in attendance. We’re so used to campaign rallies and civil rights, reproductive rights, and anti-war demonstrations–all of which give off good vibes because we’re among so many people we agree with. Of course, there are the hecklers along the sides–but they’re not participants. This was quite a bit different.
The event started at 7 p.m. The doors opened at 6, but MoveOn.org had suggested we get there before 5, and it’s a good thing we did because the lines already snaked around and around. I don’t know if we could have gotten in if we’d come any later. While waiting in line, we saw lots of protestors who were part of Lyndon Larouche’s group (he lives around here; I don’t know if their anti-Obama hate campaign is national). They had the Obama signs with the Hitler moustache. But I don’t think they actually came into the meeting–just walked up and down the waiting line. (I believe that the doorkeepers were checking to see if everyone entering was from this Congressional District; but they obviously failed in at least one significant case–so I don’t know how carefully they tracked this.)
Inside, the significant majority was progressive–and not just on healthcare: some of the people circling the auditorium had anti-war, anti-military signs and they got big applause. (Jim Moran voted against the Iraq war.) But there was also a significant minority against healthcare reform–with the expected anti-“socialism” or “we can’t afford it” signs. None of the “anti” signs were too, too horrific. Not like the Larouchees outside with their Obama=Hitler signs. But there was a lot of chanting back and forth. And the antis tried hard to interrupt Moran. But still nothing horrific.