What is behind the hysterics at town hall meetings? Not who is behind the mob – as it is widely known to be fringe agitators like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh in tandem with conservative lobbying groups – but what is behind the blind rage that borders on the absurd? Why are these people acting like they are on the Jerry Springer Show?
Although it has been purposely stirred up for partisan ends, I have no doubt that some of the anger is real. However, I do not think that it is all about health care.
We have all witnessed major changes in our country during this first decade of the 21st century. Most of us have done our best to ride the waves and keep our heads above water. Most of us continue to believe in the strength and core values of this nation. Most of us remain optimistic and hopeful. Yet I sense that some feel as if their world is ending, as if water has made it to their lungs and they no longer could breathe. They are flailing helplessly and screaming for an end to this nightmare.
September 11, 2001 was the first big wave that hit us. Until then, America was the only superpower left. But it only took a ragtag band of fundamentalist zealots to end our sense of security and dominance. We lashed back with full force at the terrorist organization behind the attack and struck at another regime for good measure, but eight years, billions of dollars and thousands of lives later, our new enemies thrive, partly due to our own reaction.
In 2007, the second wave hit. Our economy went on free fall and many of us lost our jobs, homes and savings. The American dream of owning a home has been shattered, and the reward of a secure retirement after a lifetime of hard work is no longer guaranteed.
Then more waves in the past year. We elected our first African American president and witnessed the elevation of the first Latino Supreme Court justice. The complexion of America is changing rapidly. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are slowly winning equality state by state while changing the minds and hearts of most Americans, particularly the next generation. Sixteen percent of us are not practicing any religion.