As mentioned yesterday, I had the 'pleasure' of attending both of Jay Inslee's town halls this weekend, the first in Poulsbo and the second in Edmonds.
While the first I was surrounded entirely by supporters of the bill (a couple of whom refused to listen to anyone who had anything unkind to say about such a program, despite they being the ones who engaged me), I did find a couple of others who were willing to talk and listen... even one gentlemen who commented:
It's a shame that those who are so against the bill don't say anything about an alternative
I agreed, but added:
I can tell you how to fix the bulk of the problem in 5 minutes, problem is most of the slogans based on it don't generally fit well on a sign. If I hold a sign that says "Support inter-state commerce" or "make all healthcare tax free"... it's neither catchy nor understandable without a minute or two of explanation.
He was intrigued and asked me to explain... so I did. I talked to him about the need to make all health care (both insurance and out of pocket expenses) tax deductable or none at all and how that gives employers and Flex spending accounts an unfair advantage... as well as the competitive advantages of opening up the health insurance market to allow plans to be purchased from out of state.
#2 though was a far better experience (despite getting through fewer questions and seeming to have a more hostile crowed towards liberty) where not moments after finding my seat in the bleachers of the gym and getting off the phone with tdaxp after describing some of the interesting attempts at 'grass-rooting' from the other side that I saw walking in to the town hall I had a woman a few rows below me turn and ask:
"Who are you with?"
"No one, it's just me" I responded.
"I mean, you've got a lot of equipment there, are you a reporter? Or blogger?" noting my netbook, digital camera and itty bitty flash camcorder.
I laughed and said "While I do blog from time to time, occasionally politically... I'm just here as another angry constituent."
Since moving out here probably the most important thing I've learned... is it's best to be reserved with regards to ones political views until you know how the other side stands... because if you aren't careful you may just find yourself talking to a rabid communist, socialist or statist... of which the Seattle area has many.
We started chatting from afar... and I ended up moving down to chat more face to face, eventually I learned that she was a recently laid of nurse who was a conservative and opposed the current bill... so 2 out of 3 isn't bad.
A short time later later a couple of elderly people who turned out to be conservative came and sat down next to her, of course we didn't know it at first and expressed curiosity in their sign... and approved.
As the gym continued to fill another elderly couple came and sat down next to me to the left, we briefly got a chatting about the weather and other such trivialities when they looked closer at the signs in front of us (anti-bill) and didn't feel comfortable remaining... so moved elsewhere.
Shortly later another elderly couple sat in the same place and those in front of me and I laughed and said "you know, the people who sat there last weren't too happy with some of these signs... you may want to take a quick look to see if you want to sit near us."
They looked, they laughed, agreed with them and stayed.
To the right of me eventually found another semi-elderly couple, a woman and her husband who turned out to be a mixed marriage, she a democrat (of the Regan sort), and he a staunch conservative... though both were against the bill... and she even mentioned that she voted for McCain back in November.
Eventually three more anti-bill people found their way to the row behind me, a mother and her adult son (~20) and another man.
It was strange... while a few were well dressed and my looking like a crazy hippy who would be expected to support the bill(something mentioned to me several times over the weekend)... no one had any swastikas, assault rifles, Astroturph or pay stubs from the lobbyists funding us to be there... and yet we all managed to find each other (thankfully).
Because of that... the strength in numbers and reminder that we are not alone in this fight (even if just a sub section) gave us a better voice when the congressmen would pat himself on the back while delaying his answer to a question... or worse filibuster for 5 minutes to a simple question that was limited to 60 seconds.
Another neat thing about finding some like minded people, was that it gave me the opportunity to get up and run around the gym for a few minutes taking some additional pictures while having them momentarily watch my stuff.
Why couldn't I trust some bill supporters to do the same? Call me crazy, but if you are so hell bent on raising my taxes to pay for things like universal healthcare, cash for clunkers, the stimulus bill (and all of it's pork), nationalizing banks and auto companies or other complete wastes of money... I just can't trust you with my physical property either unless I'm fairly sure that you aren't going to try to redistribute it.
A number of photos I took from Sunday's event can be seen here.