I live in the NC-11 district, which succeeded in finally replacing slumlord Charles Taylor [a.k.a. “Chainsaw Charlie”] with ex-football heartthrob and semi-Democrat Heath Shuler in the ’06 election. I say semi-Democrat because he’s a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, though less of a hypocritical opportunist than most of the others. Thus he does a pretty good job of actually representing his constituency, which in this corner of southern Appalachia is quite conservative. He’s a local boy made good and a source of some pride for all, thus was the perfect candidate to field against Chainsaw Charlie. Largest source of income in this way-back corner of the state is tourism, so our beautiful forests and mountains are worth way more to us intact than as wood chips or parking lots for Charlie’s puppeteers.
Heath easily carried all 15 counties in the district in ’08, including Henderson, a county primarily populated by native apple farmers, wealthy lawyers and retirees from Florida, and New Jersey ex-pats with Italian surnames and bodyguards. Having met Heath several times during his original campaign, he’s a nice kid with a good heart and honest as the day is long, so I like him. He’s frustrating sometimes, but I’m enough of a realist to know most folks here aren’t nearly as leftist as me, and I’m not the only person he was elected to serve. We’re watching closely, and will take him down at primary as soon as he shows signs of selling out the real ag/tourism base as Charlie did.
The demographics are slowly but surely changing by attrition as the old folks die and lots of DFHs [Dirty F’king Hippies] move in to homestead the countryside and participate in A-ville’s growing reputation as “New Age Mecca.” I’ve got my issues with the DFHs too, but when they can be motivated to vote they are strongly progressive. We’ve a number of great colleges and Universities in the district as well, and students are also a reliable bloc for Dems. There is no doubt that one of these days it will be time to move farther toward the progressive end of the spectrum, so Heath may end up in the Senate if we can arrange for him to run against Burr while we replace him here.
Anyway, Heath is surprisingly bright for a jock, so you might be interested in how he’s handling the ugly Teabagger contingent mobilized to disrupt, harrass and incite violence at the town halls congressmembers are holding during this summer recess. There is a rather large and loud Teabagger contingent in this district, as terminally stupid as anyone else’s and nearly as spaced-out as the hard-core guru branches of the DFHs. Shuler has scheduled not one but two town hall meetings this recess, and if he didn’t play it smart things would no doubt get extremely ugly (most of the Teabaggers in this neck of the woods may always be assumed armed and dangerous).
First off, he called a meeting yesterday (August 6) just for the Teabaggers! He invited them to pick half a dozen representatives to present their views directly to him concerning the health care issue as well as any other legislative bugaboos they want to rant about. The meeting was one-on-one, manageable by him and his staff, not public. I thought this was quite clever, sort of a ‘head ’em off at the pass’ move that surely came from the NFL playbook. With that kind of personal access with our Blue Dog, they can’t justify a mob presence or hate speech at the two public meetings. Though of course the national lobby would bus non-constituents in for that purpose, so Heath came up with another good idea for those.
From his August 5th Newsletter to constituents:
“As Congress continues to discuss this and other important legislation, it is imperative that I hear from my constituents. In an effort to reach as many people throughout the district as possible, I will be holding tele-town hall meetings on August 13, 2009 and September 1, 2009. Please contact my office at 202-225-6401 if you are interested in participating in either of these town halls. I will post additional information on my website as specific times and details are finalized.”
We might ask how the Teabaggers managed a private meeting with Shuler before the rest of the public he represents gets a chance to speak their minds, but it’s a pretty good way of stroking their itty egos enough to keep them from shooting him – which would surprise exactly zero people here. And the teleconferences allow participants to be screened to ensure they really are constituents with valid concerns and an ability to express themselves in civil English, as well as preventing them from blatant disruption and anti-democratic thuggery. Clever.
Before anyone asks, no. I will not be participating in the town halls. Heath already knows what I want in the way of health care and insurance reform, as he’s been contacted in writing and by phone regularly for months. He might vote for whatever Dems come up with, but whatever Dems come up with isn’t something I care a whit about. We’ve already been sold out on this, and to tell the truth I wouldn’t mind one bit if the ‘baggers shut the whole thing down for another couple of years. Doing nothing at this point is better than simply giving the Death By Spreadsheet crowd a golden gift by requiring everybody to purchase junk health insurance from them like we’re all forced to buy junk car insurance. All that does is soak the poor while cutting off any possible access to health care they might have had with the money they’ll be forced to pay insurers for not covering health care! What a scam.
Democrats have given me absolutely nothing worth standing for, they’re simply kow-towing to the insurers and soaking everybody else. The whole charade is kabuki theater of the worst kind, designed to make fools of us all. Since I’m already a professional fool, I can easily see right through it. This essay is just to point out that Heath Shuler is at least smarter than those who are still pretending shock and dismay at what they knew very well weeks ago was coming down from the teabaggers. Nobody in their right mind would buy that bullshit act, and I’m thankful my representative didn’t ask me to.
So when I hear them calling for deluded Dems and progressives to show up at town halls and protect them from the entirely faked repercussions of their own duplicity, I just shake my head at how stupid they must believe we are. Nope. They’re all dancing to the same piper here, eagerly fomenting armed insurrection between the lower classes so they can earn their payoffs for distraction while the capital class finishes robbing the country blind. They are ALL in on the game.
They very much deserve to get yelled at, I don’t care who does the yelling. Progressives who understand that they’ve offered us nothing to support should stay away in droves. Make no mistake. There will be no public option, universal care isn’t even talked about in passing anymore. And they will blame their cowardice on the teabaggers who scared them away from real reform. Don’t believe it. All they intend is a mandate for junk insurance. They don’t even bother calling it “Health Care Reform” anymore, going with the marginally more honest “Health Insurance Reform.” We’re better off with nothing at this point in time. Replace them, then try again in two years to get real reform.