Congr. Danny Davis’s townhall meeting today at Malcolm X College was an absolute love-in, sans whisper of complaint about government spending or intrusion or incompetence and loaded with support for the public option that was roundly applauded by his audience of several hundred.
It was nothing like the gathering in Washington state where a Marine vet did all but tar and feather the Democrat who had accused protestors of “brown shirt” tactics (and later apologized). Davis, on the other hand, basked in adulation.
His district, Illinois-7th, extends from Lake Michigan west to the western edge of Cook County, cutting a swathe through the north-south center of the metropolitan area from Chicago’s Loop.
It includes much of the West Side of Chicago and parts of the suburban communities of Bellwood (all), Berkeley, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Oak Park (all), River Forest (all) and Westchester. In Chicago, the 7th District includes all or part of the community areas of Austin, Chinatown (Armour Square), Douglas, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Fuller Square, Bronzeville (Grand Boulevard), Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Loop, Near North Side, Near South Side, Near West Side, North Lawndale, Oakland, Washington Park, West Englewood, West Garfield Park and West Town. .
To an audience salted with “public option” signs, he had only to mention “public option” and people stood and applauded. The preacher who opened the meeting put public option into his prayer, just before naming Jesus, presumably as one who would endorse it.
Davis himself pulled out the stops with: “No matter the cost, quality health care should be provided for every citizen.” Not non-citizen, notice: that’s for the Puerto Rican Chicago congressman to say; it’s everyone to his own constituency.
“Every time I hear the cost is too much,” Davis continued, in full cry, “I am reminded of [black liberationist] Frederick Douglass” and what he said about abolition of slavery. “There’s always a reason” not to do what’s right, Davis quoted, adding his own “as the insurance companies won’t like it, the medical supplies companies won’t like it.”
Douglass said opponents of abolition, “deprecate agitation” and (employing one of several metaphors) “want the ocean without the roar of its mighty waters.” But “one thing is for sure,” Davis said, again quoting Douglass, “you won’t get all you pay for, but you will pay for everything you get,” apparently referring to the current struggle over health care reform but collaterally and unintentionally endorsing town-hall protests coast to coast opposing it.
“No price is too high for quality health care,” Davis said again, apparently absolving himself of fiscal responsibility as to mounting deficits and inflation and rising tax rates.
He tore into the U.S. for its imprisoning of offenders, saying it has more in prison than any other country.
“We have the most prisoners,” he said, “more than China and Russia, countries that we accuse of human rights violations. We have many in prison who should be in mental health institutions.” People applauded, including three white women in front of me who had the look of religious sisters.