Saturday, September 05, 2009

Round Robin Challenge: Pictures of Politics, Town Hall Division

Our latest Round Robin Photo Challenge, Politics was suggested by Carly of Ellipsis. We have a sparse turn-out this time; evidently, either everyone is busy this holiday weekend or a lot of people are too nervous about this touchy subject to post politics-related pictures. Some of our friends might think less of us if they knew our political affiliation, and besides, a photo meme is about picture-taking, not imposing controversial opinions on each other. Right?

Well, maybe. I personally get nervous whenever writing about politics online, for those very reasons. But this Challenge is about photographing the wild world of politics, not arguing the merits of a particular candidate or issue - although it can be!

With all that in mind, let us venture forth to a high school on the East side of Tucson, host to one of the last of this summer's "town hall" meetings on the subject of health care. With 2200 people in attendance and more on the periphery, there was a lot there for the camera to see!

Watching from the Sidelines

To Capacity - and Beyond!

In the courtyard, it's standing room only for latecomers.

The first wave of arrivals after the auditorium was full got to sit on folding chairs and watch the two tv screens. The rest of us had to stand off at the side, and try to see the tv through the trees. I listened to several minutes of opening remarks before realizing that our local member of the House of Representatives, Gabrielle Giffords, wasn't outside in the courtyard with us.


In front of the school, pro-reform demonstrators carried signs, which were not
allowed inside. The other side of the debate was also in evidence there.

Notices were posted around the venue that "banners" were not allowed in the auditorium, which I (and everyone else, apparently) took to mean in the courtyard area as well. The protest signs, the leafleting, the vintage style flag, the harmonica player and the man who repeatedly called another man a "baby-killer" while wishing him a pleasant evening were all in the sideshow out front. Both pro- and anti-reform forces were represented in the parking lot and on the steps...


The street belonged to the tea party demonstrators - and police directing
traffic. People had to park up to a mile away on neighborhood streets.

...while the sidewalks along the street itself were tea party territory. The whole area was parked up, with cars lining every side street for miles around. Even before they reached the school, a lot of people worried, with good reason, about finding their cars again in the dark afterward. I searched for my own car for about half an hour, despite memorizing the name of the second street I walked down after parking.


As evening wears on, some people leave. I can finally sit and watch Gabby on tv.

Maybe the parking situation was why people started to leave as it grew dark, or perhaps it had something to do with people asking the same questions that had already been answered, or making the same points that had already been refuted. Shortly after the first seats emptied, I claimed one, as did another woman who had been standing along the side near me. When someone whose number had been called got her chance to speak and made some wild accusation, I murmured, "That's not true," whereupon the woman next to me got up and moved to the other end of the row. I can only assume she didn't want to risk contamination!

As far as I could tell from the courtyard, there was no shoving or other outrageous behavior. Nearly everyone who spoke was interrupted by applause from people on one or both sides of the issue (yes, occasionally both sides agreed). There was also lots of booing, nearly all of it from the right. Giffords sometimes had to play the role of a fifth grade teacher, telling people off for drowning out speakers from the audience with booing, and saying that to waste time with extended reactions to every sentence was not productive. I estimated the crowd as 60% anti, 40% pro, but a reporter later wrote that it was more like 50-50, and the righties were just louder.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm for health care reform and the public option, and against people being manipulated with lies about President Obama's secret origins and agendas. But let's not argue about that now. Instead, let's go see everyone else's politix pix! And don't forget these other memes:

The Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot - hosted by Carly every Monday
The Weekend Assignment - hosted by Karen every Friday.

Linking List:

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Carly - Posted!

Suzanne R - Posted!
SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Margaret - Posted!
Facts From a Fact Woman

Peggy - Posted!
Holmespun Fun



Margaret said...

This is a wonderful photo essay on how passionate people are about this issue. Thanks for capturing it for us.

Carly said...

Hi Karen :)

Wonderful photos, and it looks like your Townhall meeting went without the outrageous incidents we have been hearing about. Maybe there is a little HOPE after all.


Suzanne R said...

Some of the pictures didn't show up for me, but I liked your narrative. Thanks for filling us in on how the town hall meeting went even if I couldn't see all the photos you snapped!