Much to my amazement, I find myself in agreement with Nancy Pelosi’s recent comment about the Astroturf quality of the recent town hall meetings being held around the country. I recently had the misfortune to witness this Astroturf up close and personal as I attended what was purported to be a town hall meeting, at the Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Arizona, in which Congressman Trent Franks would supposedly be providing some straight answers to some difficult questions put forth by a growing number of disenchanted Americans. Quite the contrary, the event was a political pep rally, not a town hall meeting. The only things that were missing from this shameless self-promotion activity were the scantily dressed cheerleaders and the pep band. But rest assured, Congressman Franks had his rabid fans out in full force, and as you will soon discover, they were armed with all the viciousness of a pack of pit bulls on the loose.
The Trent Franks pep rally began with a 33 minute video on missile defense complete with all the available scare tactics based upon the fear of what will happen to us if we do not continue supporting the new $150 billion defense initiative. When the video mercifully concluded, out came Trent Franks from behind the curtain with all the swagger of General Macarthur in his triumphant return to the Philippines. This great protector of American freedom was greeted with a standing ovation befitting any conquering hero. I was quickly becoming disappointed as I did not believe that this is why the majority of a capacity crowd of 3,000 people jammed the sanctuary of the Community Church of Joy. After all, the primary issues that seem to concern our attention deficit country are Obamacare, the abysmal state of the economy and a powerful desire to end the Federal Reserve.
As the pep rally swung into fever pitch, I cannot say that I was surprised that Franks ducked the issues with an orchestrated Astroturf event. Most politically aware citizens are cognizant of Trent Franks very dubious background as they recall that his former inner circle consisted of some of the most notorious figures in Arizona political history namely, ousted-in-disgrace, ex-governor Fife Symington III, ousted-in-disgrace, ex-governor, Ev Mecham, AZSCAM corruption figure and ex-con, Bobby Raymonds, and of course Arizona’s version of Bernie Madoff, Charles Keating. It never ceases to amaze me how someone with these kinds of personal references on his political resume can keep getting re-elected.
Franks and I do actually agree on one point; the “relative worth feature tied to denial of medical service” connected to Obamacare, is indeed genocidal to older people. However, Franks was true to his corporate servitude oath of allegiance when he stated that “ America has the best health care in the world.” When Franks was questioned by a citizen as to whether he accepted money from health insurance companies, he unabashedly stated “I really don’t know who contributes to my campaign because I don’t want their money to influence how I would vote on an issue. I’m a statesman, not just a politician.” Does he really think that we are that stupid? I spontaneously broke out into laughter, but was quickly hushed by one of the many Trent Troopers that were patrolling the aisles of the sanctuary seeking to squelch any signs of dissent.
Speaking of campaign donations and Franks’ faulty memory, I can recall that in the 2002 Congressional race, Franks promised to never take PAC money because he said he did not want to be controlled by any special interest and enough people believed him to send him to Congress despite the fact that he actually did accept PAC money. Even after AZSCAM felon, Bobby Raymond’s conviction and incarceration, it did not deter Congressman Franks from taking a $500 campaign donation from Raymonds upon his release from prison. Should this be surprising since Franks’ personal life has been filled with such financial calamities as owing back taxes, judgments, and an automobile repossession, driving a car for an extended time with expired out of state tags and owing the government money as evidenced by his former tax liens. With a financial track record like this, it is easy to see why he sees nothing wrong with supporting a defense budget which spends a billion dollars per week on two wars that continues years after “Mission Accomplished” was declared.
Franks’ shortcomings are not merely limited to money. His sense of humanity and compassion can be called into question as well. For example, at this recent pep rally, a lady attempted to politely question the good Congressman about his defense of the present American “free market” system of health care. The lady, in her late 30’s was well-dressed and well-spoken as she told Franks and the throng of Franks supporters that “I suffer from bipolar disorder which is a chemical imbalance that produces severe mood swings. I make too much money to be on Access healthcare and no insurance company will insure me. Your idea of a free market system is not working for people like me.” It was at this point, when it was clear that this afflicted constituent was not sticking to the script of the pep rally and that she was not there to sing Frank’s praises, the rabid pep rally participants began to shout her down and subsequently drowned out her statements with a chorus of boos. The Congressman did nothing to restore order and let the verbal abuse of this poor lady continue. Undeterred in her resolve to make her point, she continued, “I do not agree with your statement that we have the best health care in the world……” Yet, even louder boos and cat calls greeted the further description of her concerns. Again, the Congressman did nothing to restore order and let the verbal abuse of this poor lady continue. “Let me finish,” the lady demanded, as she attempted to continue through the chorus of what degenerated into some very vicious name calling. With great courage, she stated that “ America pays the most for health care in the world and are only ranked as the 32dnd best health care in the world. People like me are ignored and my life has become……” A bad referee’s call, at a Cardinal’s football game, has never generated the crescendo of boos that I heard that night. Yet, the Congressman still did nothing to restore order and let the excessive verbal abuse of this poor lady escalate to unbelievable levels. Frustrated, the woman sat down and many in the crowd wildly cheered. It was at this point; Trent Franks “came to her rescue” and said we should let all people be heard regardless of their views. I looked around and wondered if I was the only person who had a problem with this total lack of professionalism and decorum on the part of a U.S. Congressman? I was simultaneously inspired by the courage of this woman and her determination to be heard and was profoundly disgusted by this Congressman’s lack of integrity and compassion for a human being in need.
“But for the grace of God go I.” What was most surprising and distressing to me was that most of the abusive pep rally participants were among the most elderly people in attendance. What could they have been thinking as they verbally abused a less fortunate person who was trying to ask their representative for help? Have none of these elderly people ever raised a child with a disability? Is the generational loyalty to the outdated concept of R’s vs. D’s so all-consuming that it blinds one to their responsibility to their fellow man?
It has been said that you can judge the quality of a society by how it treats its least fortunate members. On August 25th, the participants at the Trent “ Ball Park” Franks pep rally failed miserably in their test of personal humanity. Shame on you, shame on all of you!
Perhaps we are getting the country that we deserve. But for those of us who know we can be much better than we are, we need to show the courage displayed by the lady who was undeterred by the abuse of the crowd and the complicit participation of Franks and still managed to deliver her message. If we are to reclaim our lost liberties, we cannot be afraid to speak out against the evil, self-serving forces which are destroying the fabric of our country.
Most of us know that Trent Franks is representative of the legislative scum pond that has betrayed our country. He is not worthy of my further attention. But he, and others like him, needs to be swept from office. No second chances. Every Congressman, save Ron Paul, needs to be vilified, nullified and removed from office. Until November of 2010 arrives, we have a lot clean up work to do on those who believe that the paradigm of R’s and D’s really means anything. Both parties are destroying this country as are the people who blindly adhere to this paradigm. However, this is only part of the solution. The real work of this country does not lie in only opening the eyes of the propagandized and turning out all the Trent Franks’ of the political world. The real work of this country will not be complete until we rediscover our own inner sense of compassion and justice and then demand the same from those that we elect to represent us. Until that day arrives, we must be prepared to deal with the same abuse endured by the brave woman who dared to challenge a Congressman at his scripted Astroturf pep rally.