First, I was only reporting from outside the town hall meeting because the crowd came there in such full force so early that by the time I arrived just after 3PM all the seats were already taken. On top of this, the town hall was split into two. One was held at 3PM and another at 4:30PM. So, about an hour and a half prior to the 4:30 PM town hall, there was no more room. The crowds got so large that Kirk staffers were passing out tickets. For a report on the goings on inside here's a report from the local ABC station.
While there was plenty of excitement inside, there was plenty of excitement outside as well. The signs were split about 50/50 for and against. The crowd was several hundred strong. The signs were also split about 50/50 home made signs to professionally done signs. The folks from Health Care for America Now were out in full force. The photo I wanted to down load the most was one of a gentleman in a two piece suit and with a bull horn. Let me just quote from the guy next to me as I took the photo.
He looks like someone from a Scorsese film
He was leading a group of folks that were all set up across the street and most had HCAN signs. At one point screaming into the bull horn he lead his crowd in a chant of
I am my brother's keeper
Now, I'm not saying that he's a union organizer sent in to fire up the pro Obama health care folks, but on this warm, sunny August day, I think that he may have been over dressed for a protest.
One lady was holding up a sign that said "health care is a right". I asked her where that right was in the Constitution. She said it was a part of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." She then went on to suggest that the right to health care should replace the current 2nd amendment which she found useless.
I also met a gentlemen who's own story is a part of the larger debate. It was unclear which side of the debate he was on because his sign simply said, "I love public discourse". He's about to head to Canada to go to graduate school. One factor in his decision is that he has a "pre existing condition" and can't get health care here. His pre existing condition is lyme disease. His was caught very early, a couple days after he contracted it, but the two insurance companies he's gone to have said that simply contracting it means that he can't be covered.
Before we all run out to Canada, this move was entirely in self interest. He's going to Concordia University in Montreal in Quebec. He said that each of the provinces has enough to spend on two things. In Quebec, they are known for spending on medical care and education. So, the school will be cheap and the waits aren't too bad. In another province like Saskatchawan, they don't spend as much on health care and the wait can be a year and more. Meanwhile, because Quebec spends all its money on health care and education, their roads are falling apart.
All in all, it was raucus outside and that's what it was like inside as well. It's ironic that a man that looks like a Goodfella was leading a group of folks holding signs made by HCAN. After all, aren't those that protest Obama's health care plan the ones that are astroturf?