A day in democracy

Florida, not surprisingly, is going to be ground zero in the debate over the future of Medicare.

Last night, in separate town hall-style forums, Republican congressmen faced constituents.

These videos from the Orlando Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel capture the confrontations, not so much between an elected official and his constituents, but between constituents.

If you’re good at lip reading, check out the reaction of the woman sitting behind the woman being escorted out of Rep. Dan Webster’s forum.

The scene wasn’t much different at the forum last night with Rep. Allen West…

 

  • This is positively painful to watch. Personally, I’m with the 17th screaming person who wasn’t listening to anyone else.

  • Tom

    This is sad, and painful to watch. How long will the people of this country continue to vote against their own interest? I have my first child on the way, a daughter in July. How do I begin as a father to explain to her how this country “works”?

  • Jamie

    I hear ya, Tom.

    These videos are frustrating to watch. One thing I really disliked was that the last third of the first one was just the congressman doing his meaningless spin. I kept thinking something important was going to happen near the end and that’s why we were watching this bull#$%&. Is the Orlando Sun Sentinel a right-wing newspaper? I don’t know what the point of that video was.

    Have people ever bickered with one another like that before in our history? It seems to be so mean-spirited. I can’t see us ever uniting as a country. I really wish we’d just split in two. There’s the side that is guided by reason, logic, and a sense that we need to take care of one another. Then there’s the side that is guided by something that’s not reasonable or logical, and a sense that “I got mine — you’re on your own.” There is no place to find compromise between those sides.

  • JackU

    @Jamie:

    I can’t give specific examples so feel free to ignore these statements.

    Have people ever bickered with one another like that before in our history?

    The answer to that question is yes. Basically since the beginning this country has had several subtle divisions and a couple of major dividing lines that people group around. The specifics have changed over time but there have always been these types of issues. The difference is that in our 24/7 search for news and the number of outlets for just about anything we see it more now in its raw unedited form.

    There’s the side that is guided by reason, logic, and a sense that we need to take care of one another. Then there’s the side that is guided by something that’s not reasonable or logical, and a sense that “I got mine — you’re on your own.” There is no place to find compromise between those sides.

    Again if you go back to the start of this country you’ll find the division you describe has been here all that time. Add in the third leg of the “great center” and you have the basis for most American debate. At various points in time one view has held sway over the center and that allows them to dominate the debate. Through out the messy history of America we have been able to find compromise. So there is hope. But the yellers and bomb throwers on both sides will have to be marginalized for that to happen. Right now the “great center” isn’t so great and the need to compromise is less. As more people who have sided with the extremes get tired of them we’ll see the middle grow and from it compromise will spring.

  • John O.

    In addition to Jack’s points (which are all solid), it is worth adding that the blathering and blustering that frequently masquerades as “news talk” features well-compensated talking heads that act the same way on camera as some of the folks at these town hall meetings.

    The difference, of course, is that once the lights and cameras are turned off in the studio, the showmanship ends and they probably call their drivers to take them to a nice, five course meal somewhere in DC or New York where they talk about baseball, the weather, or the latest renovations at their condo in Vail.

  • Bob,

    It would be great if you actually did some work to find out something about the newspaper first. There are two newspapers in Florida which you seem to have lumped into one. The Orlando Sentinel, and the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. How about actually doing some investigation before you write your piece?