Goodlatte’s Town Hall Meeting

Brent Finnegan -- September 5th, 2009

There was no brandishing of firearms or bitten fingers at the Turner Ashby High School auditorium this morning, but emotions still ran high. Rep. Bob Goodlatte hosted a well-attended town hall meeting on the subject of health care reform, and residents representing a wide range of concerns and opinions turned out en masse.

What was billed as a discussion on health care frequently digressed into tangents about the Constitution, military spending, English as the official language of the U.S., Jesus in the public schools, trade unions, and Obama’s “green jobs czar,” but the majority of the attendees at the microphones pressed Goodlatte on issues related to HR 3200, the bill that will soon be up for debate on the House floor.

Goodlatte acknowledged that the U.S. has the highest cost of health care in the world, and allowed that the issue of health reform “is too big and too important to get it done without a bipartisan effort.” However, he seemed to leave little room for compromise solutions. He opposes HR 3200 outright, and pulled out the familiar organizational flowchart created by opponents of the Democratic plan.

Many of the attendees left the event before it ended around noon. Although there were no particularly nasty interactions, if there was a spirit of compromise among attendees, those conversations took place in the lobby or the parking lot, not in the auditorium.

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19 Responses to “Goodlatte’s Town Hall Meeting”

  1. David Miller says:

    Did anyone ask Goodlatte if he supports abolishing the socialist program known as Medicare?

    I support Kai and the gentleman at the end of the video in their desire to sensibly and publicly debate our views.

  2. Dan says:

    A public debate league would be awesome. Can the teams have mascots? When will season tickets become available?

    This event was an opportunity for many people to go out into public and express their anxiety about a changing society. One man who spoke said something to the effect of “This is America, I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English!” I suspect his anxiety over other languages being present in our society is a symptom of his concern that he will some day be a minority.

    David, you make an excellent point about medicare. Early in the meeting, Goodlatte pledged to protect Medicare funding from cuts proposed by the Democrats. Later he spent several minutes telling us of the dangers of federal spending and the havoc that public health insurance will wreak on our health care system. The logic is so tortured I can’t believe no one challenged him on it. Either Medicare has to go or a public option should be on the discussion table. There seemed to be many seniors there who agreed with Goodlatte’s line of thinking on this issue. What that says to me is that they want to protect their government insurance but a public option for those of us under 65 is out of the question. That’s a double standard if there ever was one.

  3. Renee says:

    I agree with Kai that some public, professional debates may be helpful.

    Having an event where people can get up and raise other unrelated or barely-related issues and recite prepared one-liners to get applause doesn’t really get us anywhere, though I guess it may make some people feel like their opinions are being heard in an official forum.

    What we need is some way to reduce the confusion surrounding the whole system, make sure we understand how it works now and what is wrong with it, then discuss what could be done to make the system better.

    Without a basic understanding of what it is we’re arguing about, these types of events don’t do anything to move toward a possible solution, and can have the opposite effect of further polarizing constituents.

  4. Crystal says:

    I was there this morning. My take was that no one was really there to listen including Goodlatte. Everyone had their mind made up already. There were some entertaining moments for sure – but not sure anything was really accomplished at this forum.

  5. Good points.

    I noticed that too, Dan. I didn’t get that bit on video, though.

    I drove away with the sense that, other than blowing off some steam to an elected official, and that elected official rattling off some well-rehearsed, standardized talking points, nothing really happened.

  6. Kai says:

    Here’s a two-minute YouTube clip where I explain a bit more about the need for real debate. It’s from the 2008 National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation.

    I’d be up for starting to coordinate a local debate league. Who’s in?

  7. BANDIT says:

    Let’s get rid of politicians and vote in “proven and successful” business people… Donald Trump for President!
    If you think about it, the percentage of Republicans that are associated with scandals, lawsuits and “I’m quitting in the middle of my term”, out way the Dem’s by far….So, it only makes sense to get rid of the Republicans first.
    See ya at the poles!

  8. republitarian says:

    Kia, do I have to wear one of those gay looking orange bands?

  9. Myron, your comments are so hilarious and valuable. You really help advance the discussion in a positive way, using humor to help explain a complex issue.

  10. republitarian says:

    It was a private joke. Saturday I pulled up Kai’s sleeve and asked him if he could talk about issues without wearing his band.

    Relax there, com-padre…

  11. Andy Perrine says:

    I’ve got an idea for the first debate!

    Labor Day is the one-year anniversary of the government’s takeover of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500). On Sept. 8, 2008, the Bush Administration put the companies under a government conservatorship and replaced both chief executives.

    Yet, a year later many accuse the Obama administration of scheming to turn America into a socialist state.

    So here’s the debate proposition: “Labor Day 2008 should be the recognized anniversary of the beginning of American socialism.” A team of republican debaters takes the affirmative and a team of democrats takes the negative.

    Wouldn’t that be howler? Both teams would spontaneously combust on stage during the opening arguments.

  12. Kai says:

    Thanks, Andy. Please keep suggestions for other debate topics coming ; )

  13. Jamie Smith says:

    “Donald Trump for president.” That’s good. He’s been bankrupt a few times and has come back. This country is bankrupt by any normal measure so maybe he’s the man!
    And, Bandit, which “poles” are you talking about, telephone, light, tent…you have to be more specific. Like Andy!

  14. BANDIT says:

    Jamie Smith,

    If you are a voter, you’ll know which pole I’m talking about. But hey, if you wanna get started before then, we could go watch a “Pole Dancing” act…. it’s the newest thing to replace “Cock Fighting” around here. Think Andy would go?

  15. Andy Perrine says:

    Yes, I would go. I love Pole Dancing. The pageantry, the music, the costumes. If you’ve ever been to Poland you’ll know what I mean.

  16. Brent, thanks for your reporting.

  17. Don says:

    Any comment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte on the shameful behavior of his Republican colleagues at the president’s speech last night?

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