I received a "robocall" urging me to come out to this health care rally, so I went to see what it was all about. I'm rather tired about having my news filtered by media who are biased (one way or the other), so figured if I went in person I'd have a better idea of what was what. There were about 250-300 attendees there. Sharp Elbows has some insights from his attendance here.
The first thing that struck me about this gathering was that someone had put some money into this. There were lights, a stage, a soundsystem, and a professionally done up bus (make sure to listen to audio):
The second thing that struck me was how controlled the environment was. You had to sign a petition supporting Obamacare in order to get one of those stickers you see everyone wearing in the video, which served as your ticket for entrance. The area was blocked off by a row of cars and yellow "caution" tape. When I was wandering around inside before it started, I overheard a couple of union guys saying that since this event was on private property, they could easily expel anyone they pleased from the gathering.
I saw them confiscating hand made signs that people had brought in, and organizers handing out commercially made signs:
Though as these frames show, either they let SOME people keep their homemade signs, or they handed out their own "home made" signs to attendees:
And if you thought that the "public option" was off the table, I think Russ Carnahan (D., MO) thinks differently:
I saw no illegal activity at the rally. But what I did see was a very carefully controlled presentation, which leads me to some questions, as well as a prediction.
First, the prediction.
I predict that in a week or two we will see that bus in Washington, D.C. That bus will be shown on TV rolling up to the capital steps. Political workers (perhaps billed as "concerned citizens") will load a few wagons of these bogus petitions to the floor of Congress, as "proof" that the citizens of the U.S. support the Democratic healthcare plan. Members of Congress will say that they heard "a variety of views" at townhall meetings and rallies (not mentioning that all of the rallies were stacked with only their own people), and that the majority of people they heard wanted the Democratic plan. They might even be so bold as to trot out some video from these "rallies".
Now the questions:
I noticed that about 25% of the people there were wearing union paraphernalia (jackets, pins, etc.). Back in the 60's and 70's, union members and hippies (about 30-40% of the people there) couldn't stand each other. Union members already have better insurance than any of the rest of us. Why was one of their members leading a chant for "Public Option Now"? What's in it for the unions? Could it be (as one Democratic friend of mine suggests) that the unions see a large public health system as ripe for unionization?
Various speakers touted that under the Democratic plan, not only would there be no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and no one could be dropped from plans, but also that there would be no plan limits on spending, and there would be limits on what you would have to spend out of pocket. Where do people think the money for such a plan would come from? And do people really think that a Democratic plan would have no rationing?
Even with spending all of this money on selling this plan, do the Democrats really expect the public to believe that the majority of people are behind shoving something through before the year is out?
Health care in this country DOES have a lot of problems. And certain elements of the Democratic plan (perhaps some sort of insurance reform) MIGHT be part of a solution. But the majority of what I've seen thus far from the Democrats leaves me with a lot of questions, and few answers as to specifics. And the scariest thing for me is the method that I've seen being used to push this on the public. A good plan would stand on its own, and not have to be sold to the public.