Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Summer of Protests and Rage

"People feel that there are certain things that are going to take place which are not at all factual, so based on false information, this anger has been stirred up unnecessarily and it's a shame because we're not really talking about the issues, and people are just venting," Health Care Reform Protester, in Washington, D.C., August 20, 2009.

Television news, the Internet, town hall meetings and street protests in the United States are currently being dominated by the issue of health care.

People on all sides of the issue are fired up. Public option, or no public option, that seems to be the question. But who can explain what the public option really entails? Basically, it opens the possibility of getting government health insurance, but the unknowns of this proposition riles up opponents.

Loaded guns have been taken to health care-related events, including some where President Barack Obama spoke, as well as plastic guns, loaded with flowers. The words Nazis, socialism, and fascism have been bandied about, as well as "Waterloo", in a reference to the 1815 battle in Belgium which ended the reign of European emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Will this health care battle be Mr. Obama's own "Waterloo"? Tensions seem to be much higher than when the previous Democratic Party president, Bill Clinton, tried unsuccessfully to reform America's health care system. How far can this go? Will a real bullet ever be fired at one of these events? Wouldn't that cause a frenzy?

The president himself is safely on vacation now, but pundits continue to weigh in and lawmakers continue to hold town hall debates. The rhetoric is heated, placards are getting torn, and cameras by citizen journalist of all political stripes, pick up the action. Congress will reconvene in early September, with lots of attention now focused on what will happen then.

This report by Kent Klein has the president complaining that the media is giving too much attention to disturbances at protests.

Still, there is a clear divide, between those who want more government involvement in terms of health care, and those who view such a development as outrageous or at least, unnecessary. It seems an important part of America's future hangs in the balance.