Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Agreeing to Disagree, Without Being Disagreeable.

There are really two parts to this post.

The first is to announce two emergency meetings in the Danville area, to be held by a group called The Virginia Change That Works Campaign. They are holding these meetings to discuss the best ways to fight the disinformation and fear surrounding health care reform. I encourage progressives who live in the 5th district and are interested in health care reform to attend one of these meetings.

But the other reason for the post - and my title says it all - is that I am discouraged by the level of rudeness and general craziness surrounding the town halls and the discussion in general. First, though, the announcement.

I received the following email from a friend of a friend. My blogger buddy, Drew Lumpkin, who has temporarily suspended Dem Bones to work for the Deeds campaign, referred his friend, Win Carlisle, to me. Win sent me this important announcement about these meetings on health care reform to be held in Danville. Below is his announcement, which he has asked me to publicize.
It’s time to stop the misinformation, smears and falsehoods about Health Care Reform! The Virginia Change that Works Campaign will be having two emergency meetings this week to discuss the best ways to tell Virginians in the 5th district the truth about the need for quality, affordable health care for everyone.

Enough is enough, Healthcare can’t wait!

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, August 12th and Thursday, August 13th at 7pm. Our office is located at 308 Craghead, Danville VA 24541.
Choose the night that works best for you. We hope to see you there!
Any questions call Aaron at 616.648.4555
Danville is just a bit too far for me to get to from Northern Virginia, but I hope to get to a town hall meeting here in NoVa. And that brings me to the second point of this post.

I believe it's important for people on all sides of the issue to come out and have a respectful dialogue. I also believe, however, that it's important for progressives to show up at these meetings to counter the organized effort at deliberate disinformation being spread by some well funded insurance industry groups. And it's even more important for people of good will, regardless of which side of the issue they are on, to show up to blunt the efforts of those who are there simply to shout down their opponents, harrass public officials, and disrupt meetings.

Harrassment, intimidation and disruption are the antithesis of democracy. I encourage people on both sides to show up and show the bullies how democracy is conducted in a civil society where people agree to disagree without being disagreeable.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous Woman: Don't you think that the majority of these health care opponents are genuinely voicing their concerns, that they are just sick and tired of these government programs being shoved down their throats too quickly? I believe that this is a genuine grass roots movements sending a message to His Majesty OBAMA and the Congress that enough is enough. I believe that we need healthcare reform, but if an issue like this which is so important, should take more time to iron out the complicated details. Nothing so complicated as this issue should be shoved down the throats of individuals too quickly. I believe this is what the "opponents" are truly outraged about.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

To answer your question, no, I actually don't think it's at all spontaneous. I do believe that the people showing up at the town hall meetings are conservative grassroots activists. Further, they are the political activists who volunteer for political campaigns, who canvass voters, and who work phone banks.

I also believe the demonstrations are orchestrated. In fact, the press discovered a memo from the director of Freedom Works that pretty much proves that fact.

But none of that is objectionable. In fact, it would be unrealistic to think that any demonstration just arises spontaneously. Regardless of which side shows, whether to support or protest any issue, it's always organized by somebody. That's not objectionable.

What is objectionable is the rudeness and lack of civility these town hallers are showing to others. I don't care whether it is a spontaneous movment by the grassroots or whether it is planned and executed by paid professionals. What is unconscionable is the lack of civility, the harrassment, the attempt to shut down conversation rather than participate in dialogue.

More important than hurting the elected official, those actions cheat our fellow citizens of their right to be heard and to be educated.

I am more concerned that it is an organized attempt to deprive my fellow citizens of their equal right to participate in a dialogue where they too get to express their opinions, and listen to others do the same.

Whether you favor health care reform or not, that should concern you too.