From what we can tell by the nightly news clips, they're mostly old, white and, gosh darn it, enraged. I'm not talking simple anger here. I'm talking balls-out, spittle-flying, neck-veins-bulging, exploding-skull, I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass anger. They're coming in busloads to the nationwide "Town Hall" meetings held by Senators and Congressmen to discuss President Obama's proposed health care system overhaul. And they're bringing much more than just concern over their medical coverage. There's enough ignorance, racism and xenophobia at work in just one gathering to fill weeks of Rush Limbaugh airtime.
Tuesday's meeting held by Sen. Arlen Specter in Lebanon, PA is a perfect example of the vitriol these poor legislators must endure (yeah, I said "poor" legislators) from the health-scare mobs. Here's a sampling of the outrageous misconceptions spewing from the mouths of these misinformed ragers:
-"This is about the dismantling of this country"
-"We don't want this country turning into Russia"
-"We believe there are several issues out there that leave the Republic at risk, not the least of which is this ObamaCare"
-"You are trampling on our Constitution!"
"They are talking about killing people"
-"Adolph Hitler was for exterminating the weak, not just the Jews and stuff, and socialism--that's what's going to happen" (my personal favorite, btw...and rumor has it that this was actually Sarah Palin in deep disguise)
My God, what the hell is going on here? I'm sorry but, how stupid can people be? Russia, Nazis, Socialism, killing old folks? Are people really believing this crap? Or, have circumstances turned them all into 24/7 anger-machines who, unable to afford therapy, are using the Town Hall meetings as a mechanism to let off steam? A place to vent when you feel like the world has kicked you in the ass? An opportunity to use elected officials as punching bags for all the pent up hostility and frustration over the recession, joblessness and the resulting stress it causes at home? Additionally, are these same people also using the health care issue to channel generations of racial animosity and intolerance? Have the Town Hall meetings simply become the perfect stage for bigots to scream, "Fuck everybody! It's not my damn job to pay for your damned health insurance! Go back to your homeland! Get a job! Stop freeloading! White Power!?" Because that's sure as hell what it all feels like...
Follow Andy Ostroy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndyOstroy