This morning I arrived bright and early in Manchester at the Carol Shea Porter town hall meeting. Knowing the room selected for the meeting only had seating for 100 I counted how many people were in the line, by the time I got to the end I had counted around 60 people so I figured I had a good shot at getting in.
As the time ticked by I was approached by a portly young man asking me to sign his petition. I asked what it was for although I saw his health care now purple shirt and saw the words within the petition calling for a single payer option. He lied and said it was simple saying that all voices should be allowed to be heard and it was a call to end violent protesting. The two ladies behind me leaned in and took a closer look then said none of us were violent but we aren't signing. He nodded and continued through the line.
As I continued to wait I also noticed the large number SEIU employees mulling around and I heard other talk about a 2nd group of the union employees that had been gathered a block away in the park. Odd.
After what seemed like forever of standing in the rain they finally opened the doors. The line moved slowly but steady but as I got within maybe 10 people of the door a cop stepped out and said "that's it folks, no more". Questions rang out from the people who had been standing in the rain. But I had already expected this. Rumors rang out that the SEIU people from the park were brought in as a group through a door on the far side before anyone else was even allowed entrance.
Carol's show went on with very few who oppose being able to ask question. It was clear she wasn't doing this to actually listen to people but to perform for the media and present a false belief that the majority want the snake oil she's pushing.
Left in the rain I had nothing else to do so I wandered over to the other side of the road where the protesters stood. There was a fairly even mix between those supporting Obama care and those opposed. The major of those supporting it however had the preprinted signs and purple shirts showing themselves to be paid supporters. The opposition mostly had handmade signs and were real people voicing their opinions.
One group of the purple shirt people stuck out though. They were dressed from head to toe in black robes wearing scream masks so you couldn't see their faces. I know they were with the SEIU however because I saw the purple shirt on one of them from the back of their robe. A few passing people likened them to KKK members hiding their faces while chanting "Stop Republican Scare Tactics". Funny thing though, the "Republican scare tactics" were a group of people who were able to name pages from the health care bills they object to and site specifics that drew concern. Are informed citizens what they consider scare tactics? And they were the ones wearing Halloween masks to hide their faces and carrying megaphones, that's not a scare tactic?
Over all it was an uneventful morning and much of what I expected from the Carol camp. A pre packed arena full of her supporters and several bus loads of SEIU employees attempting to give the impression that as many "common folk" support Carol as those who oppose her.