Frustration, Anger Intensify in U.S.
Political frustration spawned by the issue of national health care is sweeping America. Town hall meetings have dissolved into chaos. Politicians are devising creative alternatives to public appearances. Commotion drowns out dialogue.
In Florida last week, confusion erupted in the Tampa suburb of Ybor City, where nearly 1,500 people attended a meeting to speak with Democratic State Rep. Betty Reed and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on August 6. Castor had barely finished her opening remarks when the meeting descended into mayhem, her words drowned out by the crowd’s chants: “You work for us,'’ “Tyranny, tyranny,'’ and “Read the bill.”
According to local media reports, the unwieldy crowd gathered outside of the Hillsborough County Children’s Board building after the inside was filled to capacity. Mark Bishop, a freelance videographer, was swept up in a fracas that damaged both his camera equipment and glasses. “That’s the most violent anyone has been towards me,” Bishop told a local tv station.
In Salisbury, Maryland, an unidentified man at a rally hung an effigy of freshman Maryland Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil with a noose around its neck, and a sign reading “Congress Traitors the American Idol.” The event took place outside the congressman’s office.
In Mehlville, Missouri, police arrested six at a forum held by Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan. A conservative activist, interviewed in an emergency room where he was being treated for injuries sustained at the event, said he had been attacked as he was passing out “Don’t tread on me” flags. Three individuals were arrested on suspicion of committing peace disturbances, two on suspicion of assault, one for resisting arrest, police say.
In Romulus, Michigan, 83-year-old U.S. Rep. John Dingell was interrupted repeatedly as he held a town hall meeting on August 6 about the nation’s health-care system. Mike Sola made his way to the podium, pushing his son, Scott, in a wheelchair. He lambasted Dingell as a fraud, saying the proposed changes would not help his son. “You may be dead in five years!” shouted 60-year-old Val Butsicaris. “They may euthanize you!” She was addressing concerns of government rationing of care for the elderly. The meeting ended discordantly with opponents chanting, “Kill the bill!” and supporters responding, “Health care now!”
The threat of disturbance is so bad that in Clark County, Washington, U.S. Rep. Brian Baird has replaced traditional personal appearances with what he calls “telephone town halls.” At a designated time, which he does not announce for security reasons, Clark County telephones with publicly listed numbers will ring. All who answer will hear an automated message asking if they have a question for their congressman. From among the affirmative responders, Baird will select callers based on their location and the topic of their question. When the calls are over, recordings of the conversations will be posted on the congressman’s website.
By this method, Baird, a Vancouver Democrat, says he denies “extremists” the opportunity to “shout and make YouTube videos.” Several politicians throughout the country are electing to use similar telephone meetings in lieu of public appearances to avoid the risk of what Baird calls “an ambush.”
It’s true that some of the reports about the conflict and confusion at these town hall rallies are greatly exaggerated, generally by left-wing media outlets attempting to assign blame for the disorder on right-wing politicians and organizations. In many instances, however, the anger swirling among the crowds gathered at these meetings is sincere and organic, and is a reflection of the national mood.
Observing the growing social discontent, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote last week that constituents are only asking that politicians “see to their interests and not terrify them too much.” By their riotous behavior, Noonan says, the citizens are telling their leaders, “You are terrifying us.”
Such disunity recalls Jesus Christ’s statement, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). The rancorous behavior seen in the participants of these town hall meetings is a telling snapshot of the extreme social division plaguing the country, and the potential for it to quickly get out of hand.
Where will it end?
“The whole world is now shaking with convulsions, preparatory to a tremendous event,” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong. “This present world breakdown, with world economic collapse, social unrest, religious confusion, is merely the warning signal that the end of the present civilization is here. The Second Coming of Christ to establish a new order of world peace on Earth is near—much nearer than people think!” (emphasis ours).
We should remember these words as America, increasingly divided and suffering from fatal, self-inflicted wounds, spirals toward widespread social disorder and chaos.
To learn more about the climactic events that precede the return of Jesus Christ, read Chapter 4 of Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.