Tag Archives: new hampshire

Just a Good, Old-Fashioned Town Hall… With the Crazies

Remember when we used to have town halls to discuss trivial matters? — Like how to get the neighbors off your lawn, or where to host the July 4th fireworks?  Well, we’ve evolved since then… now, town halls are all about whether the government should allow Grandma to live.  From yesterday’s meetings in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Hampshire, it appears that public sentiment (or at least the sentiment of the old and jobless who can attend these midday town halls) is clear: We want Grandma to live!  We’re not going to let Obama’s death panels take her!!  Bring your socialist friends back to Russia!!!  WE… ARE… AMERICA!!!!! (Thunderous applause, chants of “USA”, hootin’, hollerin’, waving of American flag… or, if wearing a patriotic-themed shirt, some saggy boob-shakin’)

jerryspringerOf course, Grandma was never in danger yesterday… unless she found herself in the middle of the angry mob.  I was more afraid for Grandpa Specter (D-Penn), who turns 80 in February, and who hosted his second town hall in Lebanon, PA.  Wearing a dark black suit (he had a death panel meeting in the afternoon), Specter gallantly stood a foot away from his constituents as they railed him about budget deficits, tort reform, and his flippy floppies.  One particularly hostile man invoked God before making his dramatic exit.  After an hour in front of that crowd, I half-hoped that a loony Russian socialist would euthanize ol’ Arlen right there, and put him out of his misery.

Given that the morning session in Pennsylvania was so fun, I had to tune in for Senator McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) town hall in Missouri.  McCaskill one-upped Specter with some drama of her own: an African-American supporter with a sign was attacked, then escorted out of the room amidst cheers.  McCaskill did her motherly best to shush the crowd, but her scolding led to even more disorder.  Appealing to a higher power (“Remember, we had a prayer in the beginning!”), McCaskill still couldn’t prevent the boos, the interruptions, and the frequent appeals that she just “go home.”  Perhaps the attendees simply wanted to have a good Christian hee-haw without Mom getting all huffy about healthcare reform.

While Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire was infinitely more civil (although someone did bring a gun), it all begs the question: Why the outrage?  Do people really believe that Obama is going to put down Grandma?  That the government wants to emulate the (gasp) old Soviet Union?  Never mind that most Western Europe countries have universal healthcare…  I suppose the fear that we’re turning into Britain (the redcoats!) no longer stokes a fire in most Americans. 

Along with the crazies, I too, have legitimate concerns with a universal healthcare plan… But, as long as Grandma gets to live, I’m willing to listen.

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Democratic Elections in the United States of Florida

Apparently democratic nations are entitled to a system of “one man, one vote.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to the United States, or else Al Gore would have become President in 2000, and either we’d a) all be driving hybrid cards and the world would be at peace, or b) we’d all be dead and the animals will have taken over our planet, a la the zombies in I am Legend. In actuality, “one man, one vote” really comes down to “one man in Florida, one vote that actually counts,” and “one man in MA/CA/NY/TX/KY/TN, go out for Tuesday night’s all-you-can-eat pasta at Uno’s instead, because your state’s already decided… so your opinion just doesn’t matter.”

Now, of course, someone will argue that if everyone in these states believed this were true, then there might come the election day when no one would vote, Uno’s would be filled to the brim, and Ralph Nader would be elected president. Thankfully it seems that only cynics and cost/benefit economists would actually boycott voting in a silent protest against the system on election day. The rest of the country proudly does its civic duty so that the world doesn’t capitulate into a zombie-like state with an incompetent man as its leader… (insert Bush joke here). Still, I am sure that there are many people who would have voted but didn’t, because they knew their voice would not be heard… unless they moved to Boca Raton.

Apparently there were reasons for the electoral college back in the day of T-Jeff and G-Dubs (the original). And there is historical precedent as to why Iowa, of all states, is first in the all-important primary season (surprisingly, it’s not because of its astounding diversity). But how is our system democratic today, when only a few decide for us all? It sometimes seems like Iowa and New Hampshire give us our choices, and Florida and Ohio pick our President. Is it so hard to hold a two-hour event where our candidates make speeches, perhaps sing, and then Americans just call in to vote? Ryan Seacrest could host. That’ll show those guys in Iraq what real democracy is all about.

But in all seriousness, I’d like to see a change in the system that has produced us Mr. George W. Bush…twice.  Why not have an election-year lottery to determine the order of voting in primaries? It could be a family event, like watching the NBA draft lottery or the Powerball numbers. And why not get rid of the electoral college in favor of a truly democratic vote? I know that would drag me away from the pasta bowls to actually do my civic duty.

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