[Photos by RAY SKWIRE]
BY GREG ADOMAITIS The chants of “People! Not profits!” and signs calling for the death of the Obama health care plan stayed out on the sidewalk when Congressman Joe Sestak [D-PA] packed the Broad Street Ministry last night for a largely shout-free town hall forum on health care reform. The event drew an overflow crowd, not only was the main floor packed but so was the basement where workers were running up questions from those downstairs to put before Sestak. It was so full that by 8:30 p.m. there were police in the lobby claiming it had become a fire hazard.
Bill Golderer, founding pastor, introduced his way down the line of people waiting to get in that stretched around the block and down Pine Street. “I hope for a conversation at higher level than what we’ve seen,” Golderer said and for the most part he got it. The protesters that shouted down Senator Arlen Specter and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a recent forum at the National Constitution Center and disrupted health care townhalls around the country were nowhere to be found at the Sestak forum. The overflow crowd wanted answers, not manufactured drama and incoherent temper tantrums. That was apparent from the beginning when a spontaneous chorus of “What is the question?” greeted one questioner’s tedious rant.
Several more questions were put before Sestak with mostly direct responses on his part before the first major interruption. “I believe this reform is good and it is right,” Sestak said. Not everyone liked what they heard. “Chris”, a veteran whom Sestak appeared to know, grew visibly agitated in his seat, shaking his head “No” to a number of Sestak’s responses. He finally walked up to the stage, mouthed something to Sestak and walked backwards yelling and flailing his arms. But for the most part, the audience was civil and respectful. Over a dozen people were able to pose serious questions and receive substantive answers from Sestak during the course of the forum, which ran well over the allotted time. While cable news and and right wing radio would have you believe that the American people are furious over the prospect of government-mandated reforms of the health insurance system, last night’s reasonable and informative dialogue between a Congressman and his constituents made all the kicking and screaming you see on TV seem like a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
PREVIOUSLY: THE TOWNHALL TEMPER TANTRUMS WILL BE TELEVISED
PREVIOUSLY: Healther Skelter