Yesterday, I attended Ben Cardin’s Townhall meeting at Towson University. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss healthcare in America. Ben Cardin currently serves as one of Maryland’s U.S. senators.
I arrived at 4:11, even though the event was not sceduled to begin until 7:00 PM. Nevertheless, there was already a line.
This line grew quickly, and by 5:30, the Towson University administration began turning people away.
When they ﬁnally let us into the auditorium, they inspected bags and purses to ensure an absence of weapons and food. Walking through the auditorium door, we were each handed blue cards on which we would write down a question for Mr. Cardin along with our contact information. Inside the auditorium, classical music played.
I sat toward the front. At 6:57, a gentleman in the corner of the room holding a small camera was asked to be seated. It was difﬁcult to hear their conversation, but the man appeared to ask the administrator if it was okay for him to stand where he was for the simple purpose of recording the event and the audience, to which the administrator clearly told him it was not. The man submitted to the administrator.
I commented to the woman sitting to the right of me, “That guy wasn’t harming anyone,” to which she responded, “Yeah, none of us [audience members] had a problem with him.”
About a minute later, Cardin and a few others walk out. I had not been paying attention to the stage as I was reading my book, but the audience reaction told me all I needed to know, and so I closed the book. An administrator in a green tie makes some brief opening remarks. All three persons and on the stage in front of the audience, and two projection screens stand on either side of the three persons. Behind the podium are three nice-looking chairs, and above the chairs is a banner—probably paid for with your tax dollars—that said, “Every American Deserves Healthcare.”
The administrator lists a bunch of people who were there that night, most of the names being unfamiliar to me. I presume a number were state delegates. Although our other senator, Ms. Barbara Mikulski, was not present, her name was mentioned for some reason—perhaps her aids were in the audience. Although most of the names mentioned received applause, her name received boos from the audience.
I became immediately aware of how lively this audience was going to be. Clapping and booing were both highly-valued means of communication throughout the night.
Following the administrator, a woman spoke. She explained the troubles her family is facing, and how difﬁcult it’s been caring for her children, the youngest of whom has some serious ailments. Needless to say, the entire audience—regardless of what its individual members thought about the healthcare crisis—felt sympathy for this woman, the husband of whom currently works two jobs to make ends meet in our turbulent economy. She ended her brief presentation by saying that she did not know what the best solution to our nation’s problems is, but that she hoped that events such as this townhall meeting would help to ﬂesh out some of the problems and their solutions.
I could not help, when listening to her presentation, but to think that many of the problems she faced were the fault of statist intervention into the healthcare system and into the economy as a whole.
The audience was, for the most part, respectful to this woman. This audience did not hold the same respect for the man who spoke next—the politician.
Cardin began speaking at 7:09, and he faced many hecklers. It was really a beautiful sight: people, refusing to place politicians on some godlike pedistal, but instead speaking their mind, challenging the establishmen man, and, in so doing, challenging the entire elitist system!
This isn’t to say I loved every utterance that this audience made. I was extremely annoyed to hear some audience members whining, “What about the illegals!?” Such narrow-minded rhetoric was, in my opinion, a detriment to the otherwise-glorious anti-government arguments and sentiments of the crowd. I half-wanted to pull these anti-immigrationists off to the side and chastise them for their wrongheaded focus, but decided against it.
Cardin had various slides he wanted to show the audience, but the audience was getting wrestless. “We want to ask you questions!” “Let us ask questions!” Still, Cardin continued.
One of his slides, unvailed at 7:18, showed the increasing cost of health insurance over the past ten years. Looking at the slide, I couldn’t help but to suspect that it was not adjusted for inﬂation. Rising costs of health insurance is certainly not a positive thing, of course, but no evidence was presented to indicate that the cause was anything other than the declining value of the dollar. What is inﬂation? Inﬂation is any increase in the money supply, and it causes the value of each unit of the money supply to drop. Thus, when the government inﬂates the dollar by creating new money and credit out of thin air, the purchasing power of the average user of that currency falls. The solution, therefore, to this problem is not new government mandates and higher taxes; the solution is to abolish the fraudulent institution responsible for inﬂation the money supply—in the case of America, that institution is the Federal Reserve.
Still facing heckles, Cardin becomes visibly became tiffed a couple minutes later. He says to his audience at this time something to the effect of, “I know you don’t care about the facts, but…” The audience responded, unsurprisingly, with further heckles. Listening to the audience and our guest speaker, I couldn’t help but to feel like I was sitting in the British parliament.
At 7:22, cops walk from the back of the audience down to the front, and stand in the corners of the room. I didn’t make precise count, but I estimate that about ten cops made this trek, presumably to intimidate speakers by showcasing the might of the state apparatus. I do not believe anyone actually allowed themselves to be intimidated, but it was an interesting sight nevertheless. Where has America gone?
At 7:25, in response to calls from the audience to begin the Q&A session, he pleads with the audience to just let him get through the last few slides. The administrator in the green tie also kept insisting that the audience stay quiet while Cardin ﬁnishes his presentation—repeatedly, and to no avail.
Finally, Mr. Cardin ﬁnished his presentation at 3:33, and announces that he will now answer questions. To this, the audience applauded.
—Alexander S. Peak