: Inside the Obama Fundraiser
St. Louis police yesterday evening closed Washington Avenue from 8th Street to 10th
Street outside the Renaissance Grand Hotel where Obama was hosting the $2,400 per person dinner
. Soon protesters on both sides of the health care debate had lined the sidewalks.
And what did they
yell at each other?
"We're sick, we're broke, and we're not gonna take it any more,"
chanted the supporters of health care from one side of 9th Street.
"Move to Canada," was the response from the other side, which was largely dominated by tea partiers waving those yellow Gadsden flags.
when the anti-health care crowd started chanting "Who's gonna pay?",
the other side simply responded with "Healthcare for all."
Goddard, of Piedmont, Missouri, saw a woman with two children waving
signs in support of health care reform and started shouting across the
street "Do you have any idea what you're doing to these kids' future?
Don't believe it? Government control, baby. Just like Europe."
says he does believe that the country needs health care reform, but
"it's not the kind of health care that this regime is proposing."
the supporters of health care reform was a group of activists urging
Sen. Claire McCaskill to sign a letter saying she would support a
public option to be introduced through reconciliation, the Senate
tactic that would allow democrats to bypass a filibuster.
"Sign that damn letter," says Patricia Bynes, one of activists. "There are 40 Senators
that have signed that letter for a public option through reconciliation. We're
trying to get her off the fence."
throughout the rally/protest, both sides would find a chant they agreed
on, such as the always-popular "U-S-A." And when somebody started
singing the national anthem, most people joined in. As soon the Star
Spangled Banner was done, however, both sides went back to shouting at
Ben Williams, from St. Louis, was one of loudest
pro-health care supporters. Even though it was his first time at a
rally and his encounter with the St. Louis Tea Party, Williams says
there is nothing wrong with disagreeing about politics.
"I love 'em. It's democracy at it's best," says Williams, while taking a break from shouting at the Tea Party side.
Hennessey, one of the founders of the St. Louis Tea Party, addressed the
crowd with a mega-phone shortly before leaving around 6:30 p.m.
"I can't imagine this even across the street
will last much longer," says Hennessey. "You can only tell so many lies in one night."Daily RFT
up with Hennessey at the end of the protest to ask him, if health care
reform passes, what is next for the St. Louis Tea Party.
"We've already begun moving into getting people
elected," Hennessey says. We want to take over. I honestly believe that you have to operate within
one of the two parties. So many organizations, left and right, have tried to
start third parties and they don't go anywhere. What works is what Reagan did
back in the '70s. He took over the Republican Party. They didn't want him. He
got people elected as precinct leaders. That's what we're going to do all summer.
We're going to take over the republican party here locally and in cities all
across the country, so that we have a real conservative base in one of the
parties. Because I don't think we have that right now."
The year-long debate over health care reform in Congress has resulted in no bipartisanship and plenty of heated comments from both sides of the aisle. A microcosm of that debate played itself out in downtown St. Louis when President Obama stopped by for a fundraiser.