#67 – Dick Bernard: Communicating Health Care Reform

Other posts on this topic: July 24,26,27,29,30,31,August 1,2,5,6,10,15
Early in this round of emotional overkill on Health Care Reform debate, someone sent me the link to a draft bill on Health Care Reform, and put the spotlight on three “sections” of the bill.   I opened the document, which turned out to have 1,018 pages, and looked for the cited sections, but they didn’t exist.  I wrote back, reporting this to the sender.  The response from my correspondent was that he was referring to “pages”, (not “sections”, as he had mentioned).  I likely couldn’t have given him a satisfactory response to his question anyway – his mind seemed to be made up.  This seems to  be how it goes:  “Don’t bother me with alternative thoughts.  My mind is made up.”
The exchange I describe was with someone I really value knowing and with whom I’ve had a lifelong relationship.  Now, how would this go with some stranger I’ve never seen in my life, and will likely never see again?  I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for this reality.  Each year I volunteer at the DFL (Democrat) booth at the State Fair on Senior Day, and each year some “flamethrower” will wander in, unannounced, among all the very nice other people, and attempt to disrupt and confuse.  What to do?  There are many thoughts.  There is no adequate preparation that can be made.
The quandary: a half-dozen of us met for almost two hours earlier this week, trying to decide on a handout piece for the State Fair – one that people would at least look at, possibly carry home, and perhaps even use.  The meeting was important, and useful, and even so, we’ve done only one side – a simple listing of our state’s federal lawmakers and their office phone numbers including an encouragement to simply make a phone call when they get home. 
Unfortunately, we can’t go home with the people, actually pick up their phone, dial it for them and convey their message, whatever that message is.  That’s a reality, and the lawmakers know that far better than we.
(A year or two ago, I participated in a sit-in at a local Congresswomans office.  I volunteered for a certain hour for a number of weeks, and was there each time.  This was during duty hours.  The receptionists desk was across the floor from us, and what struck me during that duty was that the telephone almost never rang at the receptionists desk – and he had a genuine old-fashioned telephone that actually made a sound.  Simply, there weren’t incoming phone calls.  That is odd, given Congressional districts comprise more than a half-million population, most of whom are potential callers….)
Then there are The Louts:  I’ve been noticing that all of the news media have given an inordinate amount of attention to a tiny number of incidents of truly outrageous (in my opinion) behavior by a few louts in assorted town halls around the country.  The Louts are some real “LuLu’s” – I can imagine a neighborhood conversation with them.  NOT.
I keep wondering to myself: how much good are these Louts doing for their cause, even amongst the other people in the crowded meeting rooms.  I’ve been in these meeting rooms from time to time in my life, and the vast majority of the people who attend such meetings are there to learn something.  The Louts are teaching the participants a lesson about Loutish behavior.  They aren’t helping their cause.
A simple exercise: I think of my own little “town” – our homeowners association of 96 homes.  We’re mostly senior, all middle class, very moderate income, probably a reasonable mix of conservative and liberal. 
I can think of only two in this association, where I’ve lived for ten years, who are probably cheering on the Louts.  I doubt that many of the others would resonate with the Louts shrill and obstructive message….  There is no ‘town crier’ going up and down our streets….
Whatever your view, stay in positive action.