Readers Respond: Cardin's Town Halls

August 16, 2009

Following are first-hand accounts by people who attended Sen. Benjamin Cardin's town hall meeting on health care reform Monday night.

Our protest was sincere

My husband and I attended Senator Benjamin Cardin's townhall at Towson University Monday night. No one bused us there or gave us a sign to carry or a t-shirt to wear. We were very happy to see hundreds of other genuinely concerned citizens in attendance as well all of their own accord.

Even though we had registered with the senator's office and were in line by 5:30 p.m., when the doors opened at 6, the line didn't move inside. We were told by the Towson University security guards that because it was so hot, they had allowed the people who showed up earlier in the afternoon inside. Who were these people? Union members? Obamacare supporters?

Undaunted we mingled with all the other hundreds of protesters while a few "organized" protesters wearing union T-shirts and carrying professionally printed Obama campaign signs tried to agitate the crowd. They were not successful. These are genuine bona fide citizens showing up with homemade signs and plenty of outrage for this liberal administration and Congress that is so out of touch with what the voters are trying to say to them.

Since phone calls and letters and e-mails are not doing the trick, we're taking it to the town halls. The crowds are growing, the anger is rising, and the president's and Congress' approval ratings are sinking. In spite of the mockery and disrespect we are getting from elected officials and the media, we will continue to oppose the nationalization of healthcare and all the other wrong-headed proposals coming out of Washington. You may not want to listen to us now, but you'll have no choice but to listen to the people in November 2010. Change IS coming.

Susan Scott, Forest Hill

Protesters drowned out discussion

Last night my daughter and I tried to attend a town hall meeting in Towson with Sen. Ben Cardin. The meeting was closed after the auditorium was filled, so we decided to join the pro-health care reform rally in front of the meeting. It was a horrible experience, and this morning I woke up crying with disappointment and disgust.

The people who came out against healthcare were a rude, hate-filled, angry, ignorant and intimidating mob - set on drowning out and intimidating other voices - and these people are my neighbors!

What's going on around the country is NOT healthy. I fear these folks present a real danger to our country's health, health care reform and to the health of the president. That night I learned that the underlying energy against health care reform is really just an angry attack against President Obama. I urge all who support health care reform to make their opinions known.

Jan Hirschfeld

Room for middle ground

My impression of Sen. Cardin's town hall was that there was rational thought behind both sides to the argument and, conceptually, a middle ground for policy.

Though their concerns may be masked in hyperbole and sensationalism, opponents with whom I spoke expressed a problem with the amount of power Congress assumes it has and how much more power it wants to grant to the executive branch via the proposed reforms - a perennial but well-founded fear of central authority expressed by citizens since 1776.

The proponents for reform voiced a sincere belief that the federal government can have a beneficial role in correcting imbalances in the health care system but are no more for big, expensive bureaucracy than the opponents. Congress and the president would be wise to move to the center: pare back their proposals - for now - to a trial of the health exchange concept embedded in the House bill and to add provisions that enable individuals and businesses to buy health care coverage from outside their home states. This less expansive approach to reform may not be a poultice for all the ills infecting America's health care, but it would likely be much less costly and nonetheless effective initial treatment that both sides could support, however reluctantly.

Joseph Buttarazzi, Baltimore

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