“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
— Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, 1787
The torrents of rain that changed direction with the wind did not deter the 2,000 hurrying into a town hall meeting on Sept. 11 in Sarasota, Fla. The topic was Healthcare Reform, and the host was Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.. The attendees shaking out their umbrellas — young and old, students and teachers, small businessmen and retirees, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, people of all colors — filled the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the cultural heart of the city.
The congressman had the stage to himself and to one wooden stool, upon which rested a copy of the Pelosi-Waxman Healthcare Reform Bill (HR 3200), all 1,000-plus pages of it, which constituted the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
This meeting was the fifth hosted by Buchanan in Congressional District 13 about healthcare reform. The meeting opened with questions from a dozen people selected by lottery. Early on, a surprising trend emerged. Questioners were linking the need for healthcare reform to out-of-control illegal immigration.
The first question was asked by a political refugee who escaped from Communist Cuba and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He asked what was to stop illegal aliens from receiving healthcare through loopholes in the Pelosi-Waxman bill. That brought a standing ovation and shouts of agreement. Buchanan noted that Republicans have offered amendments requiring citizenship verification, but that the Democrat majority has voted them down, time and again. This was met by a chorus of boos directed at Democrats in Congress.
Various healthcare subjects were covered, touching on tort reform and fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid; but the topic kept returning to the impact of illegal aliens on healthcare as well as on jobs, the national debt, and the economy.
Some in the crowd wore tee shirts supporting Rep Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who shouted, “You lie,” when President Barack Obama stated in his healthcare reform address to a joint session of Congress that no illegal aliens would receive benefits. That was on Sept. 9, and Wilson apologized to the president and the vice president for his outburst. Two days later, the White House was announcing, quietly, that citizenship verification provisions would be acceptable in the legislation. Many attribute this change of heart by the Obama administration to Wilson’s “The-Emperor-Has-No-Clothes” remark.
A high school student rose to say that she supported Wilson, as she believed Obama was less than honest in saying that illegal aliens would not have access to healthcare. They do now. What will change?
Buchanan explained that his grandparents came to the United States from Finland, but they came legally. They played by the rules, as Americans do. He told the crowd that he sponsored a bill to make English the official language of the United States; like so many other Republican bills, it was voted down by the Democrat majority.
The Congressman stated that the various healthcare bills now being considered by Congress will cut Medicare payments and will result in reduced health services or rationing for senior citizens. Obama not long ago stated that he wants to take $500 billion from Medicare to finance insurance costs for the uninsured, but he now says that not one dollar will be taken from Medicare. The president also has reduced the number of uninsured from 47 million to 30 million—an indication that the White House is rethinking healthcare reform and that the current White House guestimate of illegal aliens stands at 17 million men, women, and children.
Reflecting the diversity of questioners, Rita Ferrandeno, chair of the Sarasota Democratic Party, stated that she is a business person and understands fiscal policy. A man a few rows back good naturedly asked her, “Then why are you a Democrat?” His question drew applause and laughter from the audience and from Ferrandeno, who proceeded with her question: “Is there a need in the market to have profitability around healthcare?” Buchanan replied, “If there is a public option, there won’t be any profitability for anyone.” The audience stood and applauded.
A young man rose to describe how he watched his mother die, while illegal aliens received healthcare ahead of her. He asked why. The hall fell silent.
The congressman replied that he voted for enforcement of U.S. immigration laws and border control, that he was against the healthcare reform bills proposed by Democrats, and that he was against the fraud, waste, and abuse inherent in bills being proposed by the congressional Democrats and the Obama administration. He reiterated that Republicans have offered numerous healthcare bills and amendments, all of which have been dismissed by the Democrat majority.
A college student rose to say that he was afraid Obama was leading the nation into socialism. He asked what could be done about the political corruption of the educational system. His was the last question of the evening.
The storm seemed to have passed, as the crowd exited the hall. At the main doors, a group of aging Woodstockers in tie-dyed tee shirts with peace symbols held signs that read, “Healthcare for all.” Presumably they included undocumented immigrants. No nation has long survived that failed to secure its borders — from Ancient Rome with barbarians storming the gates, fast forward to the United States with illegal aliens crashing U.S. borders for a piece of the American pie, whose ingredients include healthcare.
The Buchanan town hall meetings, along with others across the nation, indicate that Democrats are increasingly out of touch with mainstream America. U.S. citizens who dare question flawed healthcare legislation are being labeled by Democrat leaders in Congress as “un-American, “mobsters,” “evil-mongers,” and “racists.” Such leaders damage civil discourse in their efforts to quash “a little rebellion now and then.”
Their derision could result in unintended consequences. It could result in unintended change, such as a return to the heritage and values for which this Republic stands and for which U.S. citizens have long fought.
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