Rep. Mike Coffman's Town Hall tells me Obamacare's a "groaner"

Curt Dale

I joined the Town Hall frenzy by visiting Congressman Mike Coffman's Littleton, CO, Town Hall last night. As the nation is caught up in downing the Obamacare legislation that'll come back up when Congress reconvenes in September, I wanted to join the "mob."

I thought I'd arrived early, some 40 minutes before it was to start, but the conference room was already filled, along with the ante-room with closed circuit TV, A huge crowd was gathered outside and in the hallways and foyer. Coffman's staff was consoling everyone that he'd conduct a second meeting. The county sheriff's department politely worked with the crowd. Shortly, it was announced they were adding a third meeting to accommodate the crowd. No one was complaining about these arrangements as they seemed to be having a great fun at poking Obamacare and discussing views.

A contingent of Obamacare supporters had gathered outside with some signs, but they were rather overwhelmed by people who were vehemently opposed with bigger signs. My thought as I entered was that we were all Americans, having our say. Sure! Some of the pro-Obamacare signs irritated me, but I can take it.

I encountered several good friends and know they aren't the kind of folks Democrats described as a mob, hauled in to attend. The whole vicinity of Arapahoe Community College was simply packed with cars, and I was glad to see that law enforcement wasn't making a big stink about some questionably parked vehicles.

Speakers were set up in the foyer and hallway carrying audio of what was happening inside at the first meeting. Clearly, supporters of Obamacare had somewhat packed the first meeting, but it was also clear that Congressman Coffman nicely held his own. We could hear lots of cheering as he opposed many points of the main legislation being contemplated and pushed by the Democrats.

Apparently those who came to roust Coffman didn't count on there being enough folks for three meetings. I got into the second meeting, and there was only a small smattering of Obamacare supporters. First, a member of Coffman's staff gave a factual overview of the legislation without partisan comment. Coffman made short but well organized comments on the current mindset in DC and his thoughts on Obamacare. Then he opened it to questions. He had three lists-pro, neutral, and con-of people who'd signed up out in the foyer, which he worked through, faithfully alternating between lists. I was struck that people asked very few questions of him, and even some of those were rhetorical. Most of those he called on were there to make statements or to give him a message to take back to Congress and the White House.

Only one man made a real jerk of himself but, even with that, he really wasn't booed. He was "groaned." He seemed to want to take on the crowd and used the mantra of the day with little effect because the crowd dismissed him with a huge groan and a laugh. I believe that moment best depicted the attitude of the crowd. It was a real head shaker. I'd worn my Vietnam Veteran "parade ball cap" festooned with all my medals, colonel's eagle and wings. Channel 4 TV zoomed in on me shaking my head in disgust at his preposterous diatribe and it was on 10 PM News.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi took hard hits in some comments and seems to be the focus of much derision. Frequently, President Obama was called a liar in no uncertain terms with examples cited.

I'd say Coffman hit a homerun last night in his Town Hall. He came off looking like a man who's doing what he was sent to Washington to do. The people he called on ran the gamut, but I was pleased that the elderly, middle aged and young folks who made comments were mostly opposed to Obamacare.

My best moment came in the aftermath of the meeting. Out front, I ran into some folks with signs I admired and we started talking. Others came over and it was a great discussion of like mindedness.

Then a gentleman with a cultured British accent came up and started berating one young member of our group. Quickly, we focused on what he was saying. He called us all "greedy" for not supporting Obamacare. That didn't set well, but we were respectful. He then said, "America is a democracy!" Instantly, the young man assured him we aren't a democracy but a Republic. The gentleman disagreed. I asked him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He said, "Why should I? I'm not a citizen." One of the ladies turned toward the flagpole and started through the pledge. When she got to "…and the Republic" I said, "See, a Republic! Not a Democracy!"

At that point, the young man he'd accosted started giving him a great lesson on "why we fought you," showing full knowledge of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It was respectfully done, but the Brit turned tail, quite a bit the wiser on how American politics works. I hope the Democrats in Congress are learning the same lesson.

© Curtis D. Dale, PhD, August 2009

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