Why Obamacare Should be repealed – The Flier given to Crist at the Townhall meeting 3/4/17 in St. Petersburg.
By David McKalip. M.D.
I will give Congressman Charlie Crist credit – he finally allowed one dissenter to speak in his carefully controlled town hall meeting. On Saturday morning, the Crist held a Townhall meeting at USF St. Petersburg campus. About 550 people attended, 98% of whom were ardent democrats, liberals and Crist supporters (in fact, they were organized to attend by many groups, including “Action Together Tampa Bay”). . However the staff came up with a way to make sure that Crist would only get friendly questions – create a raffle! That meant that instead of the time-honored tradition of “first-come-first-served” for questions at government meetings, that people were given raffle tickets. Then, of the over 350 people requesting to ask a public question, there would be a 98% chance that it would come from a supporter. I expressed concern to Crist’s staff immediately and they assured me that, if I had not been called at the end of the meeting, and if he had no one who had asked him a dissenting question, they would seek me out to ask a question. I reminded a staffer about this 20 minutes or so before the end and, with ten minutes left before the scheduled end and with a warning that the Boy Scout Color guard would need to leave, I decided to speak up.Why Obamacare Should be repealed
Those reading this should know that others had spoken out of turn. Some would ask a question and then do a follow-up. One member of the local housing authority asked a question out of turn and was applauded (because it was a friendly one). Charlie would allow some dialog between the crowd and he and he was doing a great deal of smiling-politician filibustering. But where was the dissent? It was nowhere to be found. At one point Crist even extolled the diversity of America and described individual Americans as special like “snowflakes”. At the beginning of the meeting, Crist cautioned all to follow the golden rule and “do unto others as you would have done unto you”, pointed to a civility pledge he signed with other freshman members of Congress and asked for civility in the room. He got it in spades – multiple standing ovations from adoring fans who were trashing Trump and Sessions with vitriol, loose facts and lies. Mitch Perry, of St. Petersblog, described the entire event as a “lovefest” for Crist, until I stood up.
The time had come. As Charlie walked down the aisle and turned toward my direction, I stood in a quiet moment and asked (holding one finger up) “Congressman, can you take just ONE question from someone that disagree with you”? To Congressman Crist’s Credit, he walked up to me and handed me his microphone and stood to listen. Well, the civility ended quickly as the booing and hissing started. I continued that I was sorry to interrupt, but there is no other chance for a different viewpoint with the “rigged raffle system”. The snowflakes became enraged, booing and demanding proof it was “rigged” (not acknowledging the bias of the crowd and the lack of a question list rigged the hall against dissenters). Crist asked the crowd to hear the question and the murmurs died a bit. I asked the Congressman if he would repeal Obamacare. I then started to explain how insurance rates were sky-rocketing, insurance company profits were soaring and the government and insurance companies were rationing care due to Obamacare. I told Crist that this hurt my patients (I am a brain surgeon). The group of “tolerant liberals” became angry again and shouted “Where is the question?”, “This is a political speech!” and similar complaints. I waited patiently as Crist calmed them and someone shouted “let him speak”. I pointed out that it was obvious that liberals were only tolerant of others when they agreed with their viewpoints. I pointed out how they had applauded multiple political speeches and that I was simply offering facts on Obamacare. I then advised the Congressman that Obamacare expanded Medicaid and that the failing government program would not pay for needed specialized radiation treatment for my Medicaid patient’s brain tumors. I told him I and others worked to raise about $20,000 for her to overcome this problem. I then suggested he look at the flier from the Florida Chapter of AAPS (where I serve as President) that explained why Obamacare must be repealed now and a better replacement plan called “freedom”.
The Congressman took back the microphone and handed it to another woman who then turned to me and berated me publicly with false and misleading “facts” about Obamacare. Of note, Crist did not respond to one thing I said and several audience members told me after words “he didn’t answer your question”. WTSP news picked up the encounter and I would challenge them to play the entire video to show the bad behavior of the audience when confronted with one different point of view. However the Tampa Bay Times and WFLA news did puff pieces on the adoring crowd and didn’t show the only item of dissent. My question was the only public question asked at that meeting that disagreed with anything Congressman Crist had said. As I told WTSP, I felt it important that the Congressman hear from at least one person of the 48% who voted against him that they wanted Obamacare repealed. He does after all, as he says, has the heart of a public servant. That means serving all of his constituents, not just the adoring left.