Or: Pete and Repeats (of Misinformation)
In my first foray into the political since moving back into the red zone, last night I attended a health care town hall with our House Representative (and would-be future governor) Pete Hoekstra. I would characterize it as largely boring with flashes of drama and frustrating fudging of the facts. And warm–probably a thousand people in the room.
I was against the back wall between a woman who seemed to be unsure what to think and young man whose shiny red tie led me to believe he was running for president of the Young Republicans’ Chess Club. I got out my papers and he said, “You look well researched” (which sounded a lot less like a pick-up line when he said it than it does to me as I type it). I was. I’d spent time comparing what Rep. Hoekstra said about HR3200 (the bill in question) on his website with what I already knew and could verify from other sources. And I thought some of his material could use a smackdown.
For instance, he had this chart displayed up front:
This chart means NOTHING. It is not “the plan”; it is some staffer’s list of a bunch of random government offices/functions in the form of the world’s worse graphic design job. It has been widely ridiculed as total bullarky. I don’t know why Hoekstra would continue using it–except of course that it looks ooooooh complicated and scary.
The crowd was definitely warm to their hometown hero, but there also seemed to be literally tens of liberals in the audience–just kidding; actually quite a few questioners voiced support for the Democrat-proposed bill (HR3200) and/or ideas behind it. And I think the majority of people were supportive of health care reform in general, although agreeing on legislation to do that kind of breaks down and goes nowhere if you believe your Representative is all goodness and light but apparently not one other single person in government can be trusted at all to do anything right. Sadly, a few seemed to feel that way.
I would have to say that the Boo-O-Meter did indicate that Big Government (BOOOO!) wins the least trusted award around here, followed closely of course by The Media (BOO!) with the exception of Fox News (yaaaay!), the “Democrat” Congress (boo!), the IRS (eek!), ACORN and Apollo (boo!), Mark Lloyd (boo? Don’t know who he is but sounds scary), and Ezekiel Emmanuel and His Death Panels (wait, is that a band?).
Popular: tax credits, tort reform, not spending, going slow, the Constitution, freedom, and (at least we can all agree) covering preexisting conditions.
I am being somewhat facetious here, but in all seriousness, I heard a fair amount of misinformation repeated–sometimes stated as fact, sometimes asked about in good faith, sometimes refuted (and I thank you Rep. Hoekstra for the times that you did), and sometimes left hanging. (One attendee rebuked the Representative for not more clearly denying the suicide encouraged/death panels idea, and the Rep. lost his cool at the guy, deeply disappointing Mr. Young Republicans beside me.) Although I would say the meeting was civil, if occasionally tense, and few seemed to believe (or at least no one said) anything too extremely far out, I was sad to hear some of what seems to have taken hold.
I am sad that people can be made to worry so much about such minor differences and obscure possibilities that they lose sight of the big picture of what we are talking about here: how to make a system that affects us all work better for us all.
I am sad that even when we come together, we still seem so divided.
I am sad that opportunities to talk and to listen are so few and far between, because I still believe that when we dare, we can always learn something from each other. Even if we don’t agree, even if we take sides, even if we can’t resist pontificating instead of asking questions, we can still learn something about each other–about ourselves.
I know I did. I encourage you to try.
What’s one thing you’d like your representatives to know about your feelings about health care/insurance reform?
What’s one question you’d like answered?