Opinion

Town hall emotions: A sign our republic is alive and well | Angie Vogt

“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.” - Frederic Bastiat

Well, in case you haven’t heard, Americans are participating in the political process with gusto lately. Representative Adam Smith’s town hall Aug. 25 drew a crowd of 2,500. Representative Brian Baird also drew a huge crowd, with one exchange between him and a U.S. Marine vet now legendary (just search Google or YouTube for “Brian Baird town hall” and you’ll find it).

Personally, I’m glad to see it. It was almost a year ago that I wrote with deep concern how nobody seemed very bothered that in spite of 70 percent of Americans clearly against the Bush bank bailouts, both candidates (Obama and McCain) along with both sides of the aisle in Congress were going along with it. It was eerie.

The political class’ lack of concern about citizen disapproval was a sign, to my mind, of their contempt and arrogance toward the American voter. Yet hardly a citizen seemed to feel any outrage that they were, by full force of the law, being forced to fund the rescue of bank executives, no questions asked, no strings attached. What’s worse is that the President and Congress used fear to scare us into silence, warning about a complete collapse of the American financial system. They manipulated us into fast compliance. That first bailout was small potatoes to what has followed.

Months later we shook off our concerns and looked with hope as President Obama was inaugurated, and even those of us who voted against him, hoped that common sense would prevail and that he would begin stirring up American economic activity with solutions known to work. We have had many worse recessions than this one, so let’s get on with it.

Instead, we saw the appointment and promotion of bank executives into federal office and a quadrupling of the national debt, along with an unprecedented takeover of private money with the GM bailout. We saw new appointees, in charge of the U.S. Treasury, no less, who had not paid their taxes, get a pass that no private citizen could ever hope for. No worries — we allowed these elite groups of feds to oversee the mutli-billion dollar stimulus that has since dissipated into the pockets of treasury executives, state treasuries and ominous “shovel ready” projects that Governor Gregoire, Senators Murray and Cantwell all claimed would stimulate job growth. The exact opposite has happened.

A large majority of Americans didn’t like this, but who cares? They (the political class) now know that when we’re scared for our jobs and future, we’ll go along with whatever snake oil they’re selling.

Then came Cap-and-Trade, which amounts to the largest energy tax in history that will easily bankrupt small businesses and depress private enterprise (which is the source for 80 percent of U.S. jobs in America). The bill is so burdensome that no other country will even consider imposing the same standards or Byzantine regulations on their citizens, in spite of diplomatic pressure to do so. Emerging democracies, such as India, rightly balked at the mere proposition.

Then the same brain trust who took over failing auto companies decided to hatch a $1 billion dollar plan to “stimulate” slumping car dealerships with the “Cash for Clunkers” program. The only problem is now we have hundreds of dealerships in debt for the government reimbursements that never came. The program went under within a week as Congress scrambled to hire an additional thousand public employees to process the “Cash for Clunkers” claims, while local dealers were left in near panic over their now empty lots with balances due from Uncle Sam.

One dealer in King County lamented about $500,000 in accounts receivables with not one response to their submitted “Cash for Clunkers” claims. They spent up to seven hours trying process one claim (we who have had to rely on the VA understand this reality).

So, when Brian Baird and Nancy Pelosi make disparaging remarks about outraged citizens showing up for town hall meetings, one has to wonder how we have allowed our elected officials to dwell in their cocoons so long that they actually show disdain for a just reaction.

We can debate the merits and problems all day long with the current health care bill floating around, but we should never forget that our representatives and senators are servants, not masters. They appeal to our fear, they condescend to what they are certain are our “needs,” all while enjoying their own exemptions from the ill effects of their programs.

Do not let them bully you into compliance. Read the bills that they are voting on. Show up at town halls, write letters, make phone calls, but never, ever let them take your money without accounting for every penny. 90 percent of life is showing up. Our free republic requires 100 percent. Do not let up.

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