During the recent firestorm over health care reform, we have witnessed large angry crowds screaming at the tops of their lungs, drowning out any chance at real dialogue. We have watched as these out-of-control mobs threaten speakers and those who simply want to exercise their right to ask questions and get information.
Thanks to the Huffington Post and an article by retired federal judge H. Lee Sarokin we are presented with a calm reasoned discussion on Democracy v. Democracy. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Judge Sarokin writes, "Two of our most venerated democratic traditions--- the town hall meeting which gives local citizens the opportunity to express their views and the referendum which allows citizens to propose legislation and constitutional amendments----have been turned against themselves."
Portions that pertain to the town hall meetings follow:
At town hall meetings on the issue of health care, the free speech of some has been used to deny it to others. Instead of being a forum to exchange views and ideas, the meetings have deteriorated in to shouting matches with volume drowning out reason and hysteria replacing facts. This is a complex issue requiring thoughtful discussion and the exchange of views, not the nonsense of "death panels" suggested by Sarah Palin.
Despite what I perceive to be the abuses of both the town hall meeting and the referendum, I would not want either to disappear from our American landscape. How can we honor these great traditions and not defile them as we are presently inclined to do?