Town Hall Reflections

The plunder lobby did a good job of mobilizing its astroturf whiners for yesterday’s Town Hall meeting with Howard Dean and Jim Moran.

Earlier this week, Organizing for America sent out an email urging agitators to arrive at 5:00 for the Town Hall, a full hour earlier than constituents were told the doors would open. OFA followed up with another email telling its whiners to


“Negative people have been getting to these events early,” the email explained.

I had hoped to arrive around 3:00, but with the brouhaha surrounding Slaying Leviathan‘s release, it was after 4:00 when I pulled into the parking lot.

Both sides were already out in force. I saw Crystal Clear Conservative and a few of the folks from the Reston Tax Day Tea Party.

There were signs, chants, and street theater. As one might expect, the folks on the side of personal responsibility tended to be more creative

than the ones who expect somebody else to provide for them.

“Health care now!” some liberals chanted, as though there actually were no health care in America. “Let’s mix it up,” one of them suggested. “Now health care!”

I got myself into a couple of arguments (to use the term generously).

I asked this gentleman whether he would continue to support Barack Obama if he kept back-peddling on his pledge only to sign a bill containing a public “option”.

“I trust his judgment,” the gentleman said of the rookie POT(57)US a decade or two his junior.

I cataloged a few of Mr. Obama’s broken pledges (e.g., that he’d filibuster FISA, that he’d accept public campaign funding) and pointed out the folly of trusting someone who has revealed himself as just another two-faced politician who’ll say one thing to one group at one time and another thing to another group at another time.

“I trust his judgment.” Okay then.

Another argument I had was even more intellectually disheartening. A gentleman was insisting that health care is a right, but he was unable to articulate where this alleged right originated; his best effort was to utter the words “general welfare”. I tried to get more specific, asking him how he came to have a right to technology that someone else created and capitalized; he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer and instead accused me of saying that the uninsured shouldn’t be treated, which of course bore no resemblance to what I said.

With all the sanctimoniousness that ignorance allows, he insisted:

“We have a right to be taken care of.”


Ever since the enormous outcry sparked by George Bush XLIII’s unConstitutional bank bail-out, I’ve been hopeful about America’s future. I still am.

But the encounters I had last night were a window into the uncritical mentality that we’re up against. If the liberals I talked to, and the ones carrying signs and chanting slogans, are representative, then we’re up against something even more insidious than whining, than the notion that rights are a product of available technology, than the assumption of entitlement to what someone else has created, than the willingness to sacrifice human dignity to the infantile desire to be coddled. We’re up against an unawareness that ideas have to be rooted in something, that conclusions have to be derived logically, that truth matters.

Last night was a reaffirmation that conservatives need to reacquaint ourselves and our fellow Americans with the ideas and principles that work. Ideas matter, and it’s the responsibility of those of us who understand that to make sure that the right ones are heard.

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