Opinion

Commentary: Health care debate needs more listeners, fewer shouters

An UFCW Local man, John Meyerson, speaks during a rally in favor of health care reform in Jenkintown, PA.
An UFCW Local man, John Meyerson, speaks during a rally in favor of health care reform in Jenkintown, PA. Ron Tarver/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

Last year, the words "Yes, we can" echoed throughout the Sacramento region. That was the mantra of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

This week we heard: "Oh no, you don't!"

Obama's massive push to remake America's health-care system landed in Sacramento with the force of a thousand skunks. At a Citrus Heights town hall meeting, it was abundantly clear that America's hottest debate isn't just about health care. The real fire is passionate opposition to Obama.

"The anger and unrest is (in response to) the whole mission of the current administration," said John "Jack" Pealer Sr., an 80-year-old Air Force veteran of two wars who tried but failed to attend a meeting last Tuesday hosted by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

An overflow crowd jamming Citrus Heights City Hall kept many like Pealer outside in the summer heat – where emotion often boiled over. "Go back to where you came from," yelled a man at a woman who spoke with a British accent and sported Obama stickers on her car.

It was a fascinating spectacle in a process that's flawed in the way humans are flawed. (Lungren hosted another noisy meeting in Jackson on Saturday.)

What stands out is that Americans are talking but not listening. They aren't debating as much as drawing stark conclusions in absence of clear facts.

To read the complete column, visit www.sacbee.com.

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