I had worse misgivings about going to Cornyn's office than I had about going to Kay Bailey Hutchison's office to Move On's rally for the public option. His office is way up in North Dallas, about half an hour from where I live, in the heart of the GOP/Taliban-Controlled area of the city.
Besides, there's not a chance John Cornyn would ever be moved to vote for the public option. There's a greater chance of every gay couple in America suddenly deciding that what they're really attracted to are box turtles than of John Cornyn doing the right thing.
But my spouse insisted that we go to Cornyn's.
When we got there, I was pleased to see hundreds of people there, holding signs, waving the American Flag...wait a minute. Our side doesn't hide behind Old Glory. Only right-wingers would brandish the flag like a sword defending only their side. Those are Fox Watchers, Tea baggers, Cornyn lovers--the box turtle brigade. Should we stay or should we go...
"Let's just go home," I said, as we drove up to the entrance of the parking garage to get a ticket. My spouse, pleased that we could get the first 55 minutes for free, said, "No, this is our rally, let's go out there." He punched the button for a ticket and we drove into the garage.
Ugh. We've now reverted to what I think of as our pootie-selves, me wanting to slink into the bushes and run away, and my spouse insistent on defending our territory.
(One time, he actually helped our cat chase another cat out of our yard and two blocks down the street--but that's a story for another day). Though North Dallas is technically not "our" territory, it is where our Senator's office is, and it's where Move On had scheduled a rally for the Public Option.
So I finally agreed that we should stay, defend our turf, go up to the plaza in front of the building, and muscle into the line of flag waving dittoheads with our "Support the Public Option" signs.
Right away, though, we recognized our organizer by her Obama shirt and clipboard, and ran up to her like two stray cats after a person waving a bag of Whisker Lickins' tuna flavored treats.
"I'm so glad to see you!" I purred, as we signed in. "So...what happened?" Our organizer sighed and rolled her eyes. She was about to explain, when one of her people designated to go into the Senator's office came up to talk to her.
"Where should we...?" I started to ask.
"Just get into the line," she reassured us. So we did.
"Hi," said a cheerful young woman carrying a "No Obamacare" sign. "Welcome..." then she got a look at our signs.
"We're on the other side," we explained, just as cheerfully. We support the public option."
"How can you?" she shrieked. "Have you read the bill?"
"Which bill?" my spouse asked. "The first draft bill, the current House bill..."
"The one Max Baucus is sitting on in Finance Committee?" I asked. "The HELP Committee bill?"
"They're still working on the bill," my spouse explained. "We're asking them to make sure it includes the public option."
But our shrieking "no Obamacare" woman just went on with her talking points.
"You can't keep your insurance when you change jobs, it's in the bill." She said.
"You can't keep your insurance now," I said. "It costs too much. When people lose their jobs, they lose benefits."
Our shrieking woman kind of drifted away, but she kept going on about "the bill," her only argument.
We ended up standing in the line between an slightly-built older man to my spouse's right, who said he didn't want "government health care" and a fat man who kept trying to stand in my way so my sign couldn't be seen.
The fat man said under his breath that we should go to a socialist country. I asked him, "Have you traveled to any socialist countries?" "Yeah," he said, "I have...uh, Sweden, uh..." but then, he kind of drifted off, as if intensely interested in holding up his sign to the passing cars.
"Socialist?" my spouse said. "Who's a socialist?"
"Not me," I said, "I'm a capitalist, and I want my money going towards my health care instead of into the pocket of some insurance company CEO who's making $22 million a year in bonuses!"
There was a slight lull in their talking points, then a guy behind me starts going on about how awful it is in Canada, how he doesn't want a Canadian plan, and how Canadians are coming over here in droves to get our wonderful health care.
"You've been lied to." I said. "When you go home, google search Phantoms in the Snow."
The people around me keep going on about "socialism." My spouse says, "You like your socialized roads, don't you, and your socialized fire department and your police department..."
I join in, "What I'm tired of is our socialized war. I don't want my tax dollars going for that."
The older man to our right tells us about a Fire Department he knows about that wasn't "socialized."
"When I was younger, I belonged to a volunteer fire department," he told us. "It was a small town, and that's all we had, we worked together as a community and had our own fire department and the government didn't have anything to do with it?"
"Did you buy your own fire truck?" my spouse asked.
"No," the guy hesitated, "Uh, that belonged to the county, but..."
"You used the public streets, didn't you?" my spouse continued. "That's socialism."
"But we worked together as a community..."
"That's what this health care bill is all about," I said. "Working together as a community to get a health care plan that covers everybody. If I had my way, the insurance company would be abolished in favor of an expanded Medicare for everybody, but that's not what Obama is proposing. He wants all of us to be able to buy into the same plan that John Cornyn has, if we want to, and not be turned down when we get sick."
The older man's starting to waiver a bit, but still goes on about "the government."
"You and I are the government. We need to be involved in this process. You and I could write a better bill than the one being proposed right now, but we don't have a say in the matter, we have to elect people to do it for us, and hold their feet to the fire and make them do the right thing. And the media is no help; they get so much money from insurance companies that they won't allow this debate to be seen on TV. They'd rather cover stories about Michael Jackson than cover the issues we care about!"
There was a lull of silence, then a voice behind me said, "Well I agree with that much, anyway."
Reeeeoooowwww! Score one for the pooties from the hood!
The older man agreed that he and I could write a better bill than Congress, and grudgingly agreed that my Medicare for All idea sounded interesting, cutting costs by spreading the risk pool among younger, healthier people.
As we talked further, he seemed to warm to the idea of Medicare for All. "'Cause I'm on Medicare," he said. "And Social Security."
Well, whadda ya know? I finally met the legendary Joe Republican.
We weren't the only ones there from Move On, but it was difficult to estimate how many of us where there, since the plan of action was to mix in with the box turtle brigade. Scattered throughout the "NoBama" signs were all the various signs supporting public option, which probably confused--or at least gave food for thought--to the steady stream of cars passing by. Were they honking for us or them?
The event was a bit chaotic, but I'm glad we went. Maybe we gave some people an education, maybe not. In any case, it felt good to defend our territory.