I was out there yesterday, and spent a good deal of time with the pro-Obamacare folks, even enduring fire ant bites in my quest to understand their position.
I spent less time chatting with those who are against H.B. 3200, since I'm already on their side. Remember, I'm an opinion columnist.
The pro-Obamacare folks, with whistles and fancy printed signs advocating health reform and the circular Obama logo, were by and large congenial and eager to chat. The half-dozen I spoke with were Smyrna residents, and endured my 'devil's advocate' position with patience. They pointed out that they have jobs, are educated and were there as volunteers (I suspect one or two were paid, though can't prove that). I consider them my neighbors and good Americans, even if we disagree on issues.
One or two (the organizers?) were uncomfortable with my unorthodox insurgency onto their "side" (I was honest about my further right position) and I couldn't blame them. Both groups told me things got tense last Saturday, though this day the extremist personalities (the inevitable one or two on each side) seemed more controlled.
The pro-Obama side numbered about one third of their red-shirted counter-protestors, but they were enthusiastic. A half dozen of them engaged me in some pretty good conversation about why and how they arrived on that particular curb. I was surprised that not one of them had much positive to say about H.B. 3200 per se (that's the current bill being considered by Congress that's lighting up town hall meetings around the country). But they were all about reform in general and voiced their faith that anything Obama comes up with is better than the system we have. Fundamentally, most are fed up with the current system and (this is the part that gets me) they TRUST the government can do a better job with it.
No surprises there. As it turns out, Organizing for America (formerly known as Organizing for Obama), a project of the Democratic National Committee, was the entity that purchased the fancy signage as part of its "health-care counter-offensive." According to their Web site, they're fighting the "phony town hall fear" by once again mobilizing the same grass roots that elected the president.
Mitch Stewart, the national director of OFA, gets his marching orders from the White House (he was the architect of Obama's Iowa victory) and has called for the "movement" to "rise again" to ensure Obamacare gets passed.
In the other corner Saturday were also patriotic Americans, about 50 of them, against Obamacare. Democrats want to characterize them as a racist mob, though there were quite a few blacks amongst them. Most were 13th Congressional District citizens who've been following Rep. Scott since he was elected and are holding him accountable for his upcoming vote on health care. Some are Tea Partiers (I was) or members of the Georgia 9-12 Project, a new citizen group who believes the "current crisis has been fostered by both major political parties." Their signs were homemade and their disgust is clear, as is their knowledge of the Constitution and American history. Most said they are independents. On this day, just a few characterized themselves as Republicans.
I have a suspicion Cobb hasn't seen the last of either of these groups. For more on them, catch my blog online next Wednesday.