Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards held the first of his three town halls on health care reform in Texas' 17th district in Bryan. The line outside the Brazos Center began forming a few hours before the doors were set to open. Tea baggers passed out fliers encouraging a new gathering on September 12. Signs, though prohibited, quickly sprung up throughout the line. All of them were against health reform. Some were spelled correctly, others weren't so lucky.
Rember the Alamo!
This person gladly posed with his confusing sign. I'm not sure if the Republicans should really be bringing up Hurricane Katrina and that administration's failures almost four years ago. His other sign shared more examples of the "failure" of government.
Yeah, the VA that Bill Kristol said provided excellent health care for our troops.
Once inside, the Young Conservatives of Texas (yes, those Young Conservatives of Texas) began chanting and holding up signs arguing against reform.
They were allowed to stand with their signs until the beginning of the forum. As the program began, Rep. Edwards walked onto the stage and was greeted by a standing ovation. As the people in attendance walked in, they submitted a card with their name and county of residence and placed it in a jar. Members of the audience selected the names and those people were then allowed to ask their question when it was their turn.
Rep. Edwards was asked the same stale talking point-based questions the Democrats and President Obama have been fighting against over the summer. Death panels, immigrants being covered, forced abortions, and one particular question that was on a pamphlet being circulated via local conservative groups online. "Where in the Constitution does it say that health care is a right?"
One small business owner, Tom Kiske of College Station, told the crowd he was facing the realization that if he continued to provide health care for his employees, he'd go bankrupt. He explained that health reform was desperately needed. He told the crowds that were against health reform that they were acting like the people at the back of the stern of the Titanic. Chet laughed at the metaphor.
An older couple sitting in front of me during the event were wearing some pretty awful shirts.
Her husband was a Korean War veteran.
The most contentious part of the night came during the second to last question. A man accused Edwards of being a lapdog for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Edwards became visibly angry and frustrated with the question. He said that man had no basis for his accusation and explained his positioning on the Cap & Trade bill.
All in all, the crowd for the most part was civil. Cheers and jeers greeted the representative throughout the event. A few people had to be "shushed" when they continued to pester either other crowd members or the congressman. Edwards said he had yet to decide on how he would vote.
"Obamacare is assisted SEIU-icide"
"Vote Chedwards Out"
The line before the event.
Full video of the town hall: