Obamacare hearings from a citizen's perspective
State Budget Solutions put together a handy Q & A on the Supreme Court's hearing last week on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"). It includes the basic and essential information necessary for anyone following the court case. In other words, we've posted a concise summary of what went on inside the courtroom.
There is an additional take on the hearings, and that is to report what happened outside of the courtroom, out on the sidewalks and streets. Hundreds of people converged on the Supreme Court, with supporters and opponents of the law dividing the sidewalk in half, much as the law itself has done among Americans. I was there, all three days of the hearings, representing millions of people who oppose the law, and this is my story.
Proponents of law had already arrived outside the Supreme Court, and set up a podium and sound system by 7:00 am Monday morning. Interestingly, we had been told that we could not use sound systems or make a lot of noise outside of the Supreme Court building - there are different rules regarding the court than the other government buildings in DC. However, seeing the sound equipment and hearing the loud chants of the Obamacare supporters that morning, we knew that we would get our own sound system for Tuesday and Wednesday, and that we did.
Over the course of the three days, Monday - Wednesday, press conferences were held, political statements were chanted, activists marched in circles, and most exciting, citizens faced off with one another. In my opinion, the best part of the entire circus was the one-on-one or small group interactions between opposing factions. In this internet-fueled day and age, citizens rarely square off in person. Instead, we usually sling arrows and lob arguments safely ensconced in our homes, in front of our computers.
The hearings in DC allowed real people - all fellow Americans - to have it out while looking the other person in the eye. It was an amazing, brilliant display of our free society. There were no physical altercations, no property damage, and no one was hurt - with either words or deeds. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of heated, intense debates, complete with raised voices and passionate intonations... but that was it. And for once, no one could call someone a name and get away with it by posting a comment as some anonymous internet troll. All statements and assertions were immediately questioned, and positions and philosophies grilled. There were even a few instances where protesters found that they agreed on some idea or piece of a policy.
So, as politically divided as we are as a nation, there remains, at the very least, a healthy, mutual respect for the very American notion of the free and peaceful exchange of ideas.