Yesterday’s healthcare town hall at UMKC with Senator Claire McCaskill, while not the inverse of the teabagger dominated events that we have seen footage of ad nauseum, was definitely a vocal gathering in favor of reform and the anti-reform dupes were certainly unable to hijack the meeting, and that was the thing that seemed to set most of them off.
I arrived and got set up in the press pen early, and watched the crowd of 1200-1500 stream in and take seats, It was obvious who the shouters and naysayers were going to be – the came in in clusters, then spread themselves out in the back, on the bleachers, so they could stomp their feet and make more noise and sound like they were a lot larger in number than they really were. If signs had been allowed inside the auditorium, I have no doubt that pro-reform signs would have outnumbered the defenders of the status quo significantly. All the signs I saw in the trash can at the entry were pro-reform.
But Claire is a pro (and a Mom) and she knows how to handle a bunch of brats and troublemakers, and she chided some of the naysayers early on saying that she knows good and well that there were people in attendance who have never voted for her and never will – but she is still their Senator, too. (That is why she can get elected and I can’t – I am too quick to ridicule willful stupidity to ever get elected to anything.)
Everyone who approached a seat found a card and a pencil so they could write down their questions and drop them in a basket. When the meeting got started, she had a couple of people who oppose healthcare reform draw the questions from the basket. A staffer then ran the cards to her, and she called on the person who submitted the card to stand up and she asked them if they wanted to ask the question themselves, or would it be okay if she read it and answered? She had wisely kept microphones off the floor so the anti-reform crown couldn’t monopolize the mikes and speechify at length like they have at other town halls she has held.
I may give Claire a hard time when I am of the opinion she needs it – but I have to admire and respect her for handling the crowd the way she did, and I fully realize that she has to run for office state wide, not just in the People’s Republic of Kansas City, where four years ago, in response to Baby Blunt’s cuts to Medicaid, we voted to voluntarily tax ourselves significantly to fund our public health system so no resident of the county would be denied needed preventive or maintenance care – and medical professionals were instrumental in getting it passed. We mobilized, organized and informed our patients, and the vote wasn’t even close.
We proved then – and again yesterday with our pro-reform presence – that Kansas City cares. Makes me proud to call it “home.”