First-hand account: Health care protestors in Colorado
I’d read about the mob right-wing protests happening nationwide at health care town hall meetings, and I’d seen reports about the level of anger among demonstrators. Yesterday in Arizona, disruptions from protestors forced Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to cancel a series of town hall meetings on health care. In Florida, right-wing protestors banged on the windows of an event until Rep. Kathy Castor was forced to shut down her event.
But it wasn’t until I was standing in a crowd of protestors that I realized how destructive -- and organized -- their efforts are.
Right here in Denver, which many consider a very progressive city, mobs of organized right-wing protestors took over an entire street block with the hopes of disrupting Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Diana DeGette and Rep. Jared Polis as they toured the Stout Street Medical Clinic. I spent the afternoon standing with them, reading their hateful slogans and listening to their angry chants.
“Obama is a fascist! Obama sucks!” screamed one woman over the crowd. Next to her, a small child held this sign:
And then there were the personal attacks, protestors clashing with health care reform supporters: “Why should I pay for [health care] for you? Go back to your job at 7-11,” one man yelled after hearing the story of a woman whose health care had been cut. Another man joined their argument, yelling, “Violence isn’t the answer, but it sure is fun.”
At the very end of the event, a group of protestors were shouting “We want a town hall! We want a town hall!” Really? A town hall? The town hall meeting is a thoughtful, respectful forum for citizens to learn and discuss an issue. The very last thing these protestors want is a respectful discussion of health care. They want to intimidate and threaten our members of Congress and American citizens who truly want a discussion about these issues in a democratic forum.
The level of anger and hatred that I saw from these protestors was unlike anything I’ve ever seen -- and I’ve been front and center during other heated demonstrations, including ones about choice.
These destructive actions are leaving an indelible mark on our public discourse. Their slogans are offensive and misleading. Their chants are full of anger and misinformation. And all the while, the people who are hurting most because of this debate -- the ones struggling to pay for insurance or going without any coverage at all -- are left waiting in the wings.