Saturday, August 15, 2009

“Respect” and Town Hall Meetings

The aspect that has struck me the most about reports of recent Town Hall Meetings is the insistence on "respectfulness" from the attendees. This demand has been made not only by our "selected officials" but has also been reiterated by several news commentators, including some I have come to respect for their opinions.

I find the demand for "respect" incredibly inappropriate on all their parts. On what basis are they—the news commentators as well as the public officials—demanding this "respect?"

Those of us who are fortunate enough to attend a Town Hall Meeting are those in this country who are simply fed up, tired, exhausted of hearing the bromides and pabulum, the blather from those We the People have selected to represent us – to serve us – their constituents.

They are no better than we are – they are, in essence – us. They are the same folks as we are, from the same general types of backgrounds, neighborhoods, regions, and states. The only difference is they have been selected by vote – not crowned, anointed or elevated – to be our voices in the government.

In other words, they are merely representatives of the governed, and by our selecting them, we thereby give our consent as the governed, to their representation of us. That consent can be withdrawn in many ways, prior to the next opportunity to vote.

That consent, however, does not mean that they suddenly become our “betters”; nor does it mean that we, the governed, are now beholden to them in any way. Our votes selecting them to be our representatives do not automatically imbue them with a sudden aura of being “more deserving" of anything, including our "respect."

“Respect” should flow in two directions, not merely in one. We the People who have voted for our selected representatives are also owed “respect” by those selected representatives.

Our selected representatives and certain news reporters must remember the fundamental reasons for the ire expressed so vocally in some Town Hall Meetings. Some of our selected representatives and news reporters, such as Mr. Dingle, Ms. Sibelius, Mr. Kondracke, Ms. Boxer, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid, and even, strangely enough, Mr. Krauthammer, seem to have forgotten the basic reason for the “excited” behavior witnessed at some Town Hall Meetings. The reason is very simple: We the People finally have center-stage and a “captive audience” to whom we can speak out directly; we realize we must take quick advantage of the opportunity, lest it be taken away.

These “meetings” are arranged under the premise that We the People will finally be provided personal, direct, unfiltered communication with our selected representatives. After years – in many cases – of sending letters, faxes, e-mails, and receiving nothing but “auto-replies,” those who can make the time, find the funds and energy to take advantage of the opportunity to express their concerns, fears, and doubts directly to a selected representative of We the People doubtless come prepared, with a list of grievances.

Some of the People have come to the meetings with a literal list – generally called "notes" and generally utilized even by the greater majority of "experienced" public speakers. In today's climate, however, if one of We the People utilizes the same methodology, we are to be denigrated and insulted by those very representatives who are selected to listen to us.

The list of grievances many of We the People have has no doubt been greatly lengthened in the past several months due to the amount of unknown facts relative to the biggest issue before us as a country at this moment: “health care reform,” so called – though, interestingly enough, suddenly transformed into "health insurance reform."

Is it any wonder so many of We the People have so many doubts, concerns, and questions?

This is one other item that Mr. Obama spoke of during his year-and-a-half long campaign, but one that was overshadowed – even for those who may not have been assimilated by the “Hope-n-Change” mantra – by the many other disturbing aspects of the most recent "change" of guard in our Nation's capitol.

We the People tend to be slow in general in fully understanding the machinations of our selected representatives. In this instance, however, even the slowest among We the People can understand the impact such a full revision (or "change," if you will) of an entire system as health care would have on all of We the People whether we want that “change” or not.

The reactions from We the People seen at the Town Hall Meetings represent the frustrations, anger, fear, and concerns that have built up in a great number of We the People during the past many months of simply being aghast at the behavior of our selected representatives.

We the People spoke out in conventional ways -- letters, faxes, e-mails – against the bail out of Fannie, Freddie (and the million dollar “gifts” to their CEOs), TARP, etc., proposed, and implemented by President Bush – We the People were ignored.

We the People spoke out in conventional ways – letters, faxes, e-mails – against the “stimuli” proposed and implemented by Mr. Obama – We the People were ignored.

We the People spoke out in conventional ways – letters, faxes, e-mails – against the auto industry bail-out, against the premise of “too big to fail” – We the People were ignored.

We the People spoke out in conventional ways – letters, faxes, e-mails – against incomprehensible bills that our own selected representatives admitted they had not read and did not understand, yet allowed to pass – We the People were ignored.

We the People spoke out in conventional ways – letters, faxes, e-mails – against the insidious “cap-n-trade” bill – We the People were ignored.

It would appear, then, that conventional ways of communicating with our selected representatives have become extremely ineffective.

We the People are merely ignored.

This behavior – ignoring their constituents without penalty – has clearly made our selected representatives bold in their hubris, permitting them to feel that they have established such control over their constituents – We the People – by merely ignoring our conventional communications that they could simply continue the same behavior even in “Town Hall” venues.

It is incredible, I think, that our selected representatives appear not only shocked that We the People dare to question them at Town Hall Meetings, but appear to feel insulted, as well.

That very same hubris has denied them the ability to understand the level of frustration, fear, anger, and concern that We the People have reached. It has become more and more evident that the desire of the party in power is to simply make We the People accept all declarations from on high – even a total “change” of our health care system – without daring to question. It is just as evident that they have convinced themselves – through their years of ignoring our conventional communications that We the Peopleall of us – had accepted all that came before without question.

It appears to have been beyond their scope to realize we were just ignoring them, for the most part, as long as they did not blatantly appear to wish to destroy our country.

Because We the People are now speaking out in apparently non-conventional ways, – questioning, emphatically expressing our fears and concerns – We the People are branded “disrespectful mobs,” "Astroturf," “fake,” and as merely expressing "manufactured outrage” by the very representatives selected to represent us, work for us, and listen to us. We are admonished, not only by our selected representatives but also by television personalities, (as intelligent and perspicacious as some may be), to be “respectful” to our selected representatives, under all circumstances.

[As an aside, it is no wonder that our selected representatives prefer to characterize the sincere and honest anger, fear, and concern expressed by We the People as “manufactured.” Did they not “manufacture” their supposed “outrage” at the “earmarks” in TARP – after they approved it? Were we not expected simply to accept that anger and outrage as “real,”– which we did? Are we not due the same consideration?]

None of the above, however, explains to us, We the People, on what basis we “owe respect” to those who do not wish to listen to our concerns and fears; who clearly feel we should be supplicants for their ear; who feel that We the People are beholden to them for all we have; who feel they not only know better than we (according to Ms. Pelosi) but, obviously, feel they are better that we.

That is not the basis of “respect!” That is certainly not the basis on which to attain mutual respect.

Our selected representatives are being faced with a situation, that, were it not for the increased apathy of a great number of We the People during the past generation or so, they would have had to face throughout their entire careers: a concerned, informed, and very vocal constituency.

Perhaps, had We the People been more demanding of our selected representatives all along – we would not, today, be deathly concerned by our selected representatives not listening to us – ignoring us once again – on an incredibly important and very personal issue that will inevitably affect our entire lives, from birth to death.

In the past several weeks, however, it has become more and more apparent that We the People can no longer express ourselves directly, vehemently, and passionately without fear of reprisals.

We can clearly no longer express ourselves without fear of being berated, insulted, and denigrated by those very selected representatives on whom we allowed ourselves to depend, expecting them to work in the best interests of all.

We are clearly witnessing the death of our Nation.

Copyright, MCzwz, All Rights Reserved. August 2009.