Thursday, August 6, 2009

Town Hall Meeting Etiquette

Perhaps Another Beer Summit?

The President should return to his childhood culture and utilize finesse by having 'talk story' sessions with the country's ohana.

Okay, so in the hallowed walls of the House and Senate, decisions are made in a vacuum that emanate out and bind all in America. Typically, these decisions are made, somewhat reported on in the news, Americans grumble a little and they go on about their lives. If they don’t really like something, or conversely, they do, then they use their vote at the next election to register their assent/dissent. Town Hall Meetings are typically reserved for promoting a candidate. They have become far more popular of late and so it is no surprise they’d be employed to communicate with Americans about the one topic that has gotten everyone all riled up!

It is a good thing the lawmakers decided to not rush to judgment, choosing instead to give the people a little one on one time to answer questions, address concerns and build support. The Town Hall Meeting is a great way. Here’s where it has gone south as a great idea. The Hosts of these meetings are not coming to solicit input by answering questions. They came to propagandize their agenda mostly to ‘educate’ people about the bill. Sadly, they seem to all have a script and it is the same tired script the president has been using over and over and over and over and over. The folks out there in America are not the stupid people the politicians truly believe they are. They do not need the repetitive speeches done over and over as though saying it often enough will inculcate the masses and they will accede mindlessly. So when you keep saying ‘if you like your doctor and your insurance you can keep it’ understand, the folks are bright enough to know it cannot happen that way because their employer has already told them depending on the ‘public option’ they may give up private insurance for public plan and thus no more ‘keep the same doctor and insurance’. Of course one could opt to pay full price for the insurance plan while the employer offers other staff coverage under the public plan. That is not a savings for the employee paying for a private plan just to keep the doc and the insurance because the employer decides to opt in to the public plan. And isn’t the purpose of this big overhaul to bring down costs? Or is it merely to bring down costs for the government? <--- Said tongue in cheek!

People go to these meetings hoping to ask questions and get intelligent dialogue going only to find out the hosts have a script and the questions are not part of the script. So, frustration? Absolutely! And why not! A major MAJOR change is threatening to alter their health care and no one is really forthcoming with real information -- only the same platitudes which are easily dismissed with the simplest of reasoning. Human nature sustains a typical reaction to frustrating stimulus: When the human is unable to dispatch the source of the frustration, in this case, get answers to question or learn what the plan hopes to accomplish, the questions issue forth and when not answered the level of the voice goes up as a natural response to a question seemingly unheard. Eventually others in the audience wanting to assist the individual who appears not to hear echoes the same question -- then chaos begins to ensue. The hosts at these town hall meetings haven’t gotten it yet. They should just set up the podium, or grab a chair and sit in round circle, ask for questions, answer to the best of their ability. If they cannot answer, make an effort to get the information and release it. And here's a novel idea: How about the hosts record the concerns of the people, legitimate or not, and take those back to their hallowed walls for further debate? How about honoring the PEOPLE who pay the politician’s salaries and the politician's GREAT HEALTH PLANS by working with them to create a health care reform that works FOR them and not against them.

Now, to add insult to injury, the hosts are bringing bodies to occupy seats at the various locations from the SEIU and Organizer of America effectively neutralizing the purpose of the meetings by denying the American, who has a right to his/her opinion and to elicit information from the lawmaker/host, a place to sit where they can ask question. This opportunity would allow the concerned citizen to rest ‘assured’ the quality of their life, their income, their family’s well being is not going to be radically changed and for the worse by this hell share overhaul.

It is an abomination, an out right egregious assault to the American to take what could have been an outstanding opportunity to reflect REAL TRANSPARENCY and acknowledge REAL CONCERN and show UTTER RESPECT by using these meetings and this recess to really connect in a positive way with the folks. It is truly a shame the campaign trail had this guy out there wooing the public being a ‘regular’ guy having a hamburger and fries and reaching out to the folks; now, treating them with such contempt as to rig and stage these events to create the most havoc is shameful. Imagine this could be purposeful to cast the ‘regular’ folks in the worse possible light thus diminishing their worth and input.

Let’s not lose heart! NOVEMBER 2, 2010 is a little over a year away and that is when the ‘little people’ -- the administration is truly alienating through such disrespect -- will vote out those who participated and showed them they really mean nothing to their respective elected representatives. The level of heat that is going to be stoked to white hot with each and every occasion of the dismissive attitude by politicians will not easily be assuaged. People will remember and when it comes time to enter the voting booth they will make a difference.

So, how come the whole beer summit thing hasn’t been the theme of these meetings? I don’t mean serve beer but how about a room where everyone is sitting, informally, face to face, and just talking one on one? You know, Congressperson or Senator just says ‘I’m here to answer questions, clear the air, help you understand and take your concerns back to Washington”? Why the whole ‘listen up this is what we came here to do!’ The folks in DC cannot possibly be so naive as to believe the masses would not be up in arms. It is not about any cable channel or personality, no talk show pundit whipping up the hot winds of anger. It is not about one party trying to subvert another. It is about John & Jean Q Citizen who understand math, finance, budgets, running households, managing differences, developing team consensus. It is about the many families who fully understand the impact this bill will have on their lives and ultimately the quality of life for every citizen. They just wanted to sit down and have politicians convince them to go against their better judgment and fully understand how this is going to be A GOOD THING, that’s all! How is that so tough for the politicians to grasp. The fact that it is not happening is astounding confirmation the folk’s assumptions are real and correct and the future is looking maddeningly frightful and bleak and yeah, they will totally revolt against it any way they can because it goes against their grain not to.

The Government has failed to seize the moment in an historic and epoch way. They have instead shown themselves to be as those who have critiqued them have suggested: akin to the types who resort to intimidation as a means to an end. In America, land of the Brave, HOME OF THE FREE, the folks do not take kindly to threats! What’s more, they do not have a lot of patience with people who ought to know better but who prefer to induce ‘fear’ through psychological manipulation.

Here is hoping the Town Hall Meetings begin to turn a corner and productive discourse between people begins to happen. That would be far better a legacy for the president than ‘you owe, you owe so off your knee caps go!’

Come on, grab a brew, hang loose, talk story, ‘hear’ the folks. Emerge with a health care reform that has the support of the folks and kicks America up a notch as the prevailing and premiere health industry of the world! That would look far better on your resume'!

No comments: