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Progressives Should be Shutting Down These So-Called 'Health Care Town Meetings' Too!

For the most part, the health care "town meetings" staged by members of Congress are shams designed to deceive and disinform the public on the possibilities and progress of health care reform. Like a stopped clock that's briefly on time twice daily, right wing nutcases and those who order them about have grasped something that eludes many progressives. The town halls are theatre, and ought to be treated as such. Maybe, suggests Dave Lindorff, we ought to do the same.

By Dave Lindorff, borrowed from

Many progressives are getting all bent out of shape over the "brown shirt" rabble organized by health industry PR firms to disrupt the so-called "town meetings" being organized all over the country by Democratic members of Congress.

What they are conveniently forgetting is that these are not really "town meetings" at all, at least in the sense of the town meetings I grew up with, and started out covering as a young journalist in Connecticut--that is, meetings called and run democratically, with leaders elected from the floor, open to all residents of a community.

These "town meetings" are really nothing but propaganda sessions run by members of Congress who are trying to burnish their fraudulent credentials as public servants, and trying to perpetrate a huge fraud of a health care bill that purports to be a progressive "reform" of the US health care system, but that actually further entrenches the control of that system by the insurance industry, and to a lesser extent, the hospital and drug industry.

ObamaCare is to health reform what bank bailouts are to financial system reform, which is to say it is the opposite of what its name implies.

The right-wing nuts who cry that ObamaCare is introducing euthanasia for the elderly and infirm, or that it is socialism, are ignorant wackos, to be sure, but they are right about one thing: Americans are about to be royally screwed on health care reform by the president and the Democratic Congress, just as they've been screwed by them on financial system "reform."

The appropriate response to this screw-job is the one the right has adopted: shut these sham "town meetings" down, and run the sell-out politicians out of town on a rail, preferably coated in tar and feathers they way the snake-oil salesmen of old used to be handled!

This is not about civil discourse. This is about propaganda. The Obama administration and the Democratic Congressional leadership have sold out health care reform for the tainted coin of the medical-industrial industry, and are holding, or trying to hold, these meetings around the country to promote legislation that has essentially been written for them by that industry--legislation that will force everyone to pay for insurance as offered, and priced, by the private insurance industry. What a deal for those companies--a captive market of 300 million people! There will be little or no effort to control prices, and the higher costs will be financed through higher taxes, and through cuts in Medicare benefits.

This isn't "reform." It's corruption, pure and simple.

Any mention of a system that works--single payer--the system we already have in the form of Medicare for the elderly and disabled, and the system that has proved successful for almost four decades in Canada-- has been systematically blocked and censored out of the discussion. Every effort has been made to bury an excellent bill, HR 676, offered up by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), which would cover every American by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone.

The only proper response at this point is obstruction, and the more militant and boisterous that obstruction, the better.

Instead of opposing the right-wing hecklers at these events, progressives should be making common cause with them. Instead of calling them fascists, we should be working to turn them, by showing them that the enemy is not the left; it is the corporations that own both Democrats and Republicans alike.

The only proper approach to the wretched health care legislation currently working its way through Congress at this point is to kill it and start over. At these "town meeting" staged events, Obama and the Democrats need to hear, in no uncertain terms, that we don't want no stinkin' ObamaCare. We want Medicare for all.


DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. He is author of “Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains” (Bantam Books, 1992), and more recently of “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at

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Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Just as a counterpoint- Massa continues to take the heat at town hall meetings, and continues to support single payer HR 676.

And, from one article I read, refused to take the congressional health care plan.

This doesn't negate your broad point, at all, but it's nice to find a few "twinkling stars of real hope" out there ;) now and then. I trust you will take my OT comment in the spirit meant.

Point is- kudos to Eric Massa. Most of the rest, well, as you say. Best, VG

Submitted by hipparchia on

shutting down the town halls was originally going to be my part 6 installment, but the rightwing is doing this so well that i decided to leave it to them and move on to whipping the blue dogs. i'd be thrilled to see single payer supporters [doctors would be good, and patients in wheelchairs too] getting arrested for [peacefully] shutting down a couple of these.

there are several problems with the 'left' on this issue, and one of them is that so many of them really do think these town halls were set up to listen to the voters. as you say though, they are purely propaganda, meant to sell us on supporting the dem leadership's view of health care deform reform.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

(Sorry, I just had to say that! :)

But yes, we've done way too little in-their-face demonstrating. Thanks for a great kick in the tuchis, Bruce.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Hugh Muir in the Guardian:

We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS," he told us. "I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived." Something here is worthless. And it's not him.