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Town hall debates are good

Disorder or debate?

How you feel about the discussions taking place at town hall meetings and public forums across the country likely depends on your political leanings. Conservatives would call it debate – speaking up for citizens’ rights and exercising responsibility in a democracy to question government. Liberals, trying to push their health care agenda through Congress, would call it organized disorder – disruption and disrespect, aimed solely at upending the process and stalling any progress toward the passage of much-needed health care reform.

Like much in the national political arena, the truth lies more in the grey areas.

At the heart of this disorder is debate. It is the voice of millions of Americans who have legitimate questions and concerns about a health care agenda being pushed through a liberal Congress with seemingly little regard for the long-term ramifications of the changes to our system. We have a responsibility to ask questions, to hold our elected officials responsible, to voice our concerns and our issues to them.

At the same time, we must have the decency and the decorum to be respectful. We must debate the issues in public forums in manners that allow others to discuss, to answer, to listen and to learn. Yelling, shouting, disruption and disorder serve no real purpose.

In the end, we support these voices of question and and debate. We have seen what blind acceptance gained us in the federal stimulus package, which is proving largely ineffective and much more costly than any of us imagined.

President Obama’s health care reforms, are frightening in scope … Proposing radical changes to the system that would bring America dangerously close to a government-run, socialized medicine program. If that is really the direction we want take as a country, we need to do so with open eyes, answered questions and a clear understanding of the consequences of our decisions.

And the only way to understand is to ask questions and learn.