Oklahomans Fired Up By Health Reform Debate

Wednesday, August 19th 2009, 5:29 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

UNDATED -- Over the past two weeks, it is a mega dose of health reform debate.  Thousands of Oklahomans, all across the state, have been speaking out on the health care reform overhaul.  They have been writing letters, sending emails, calling their members of Congress, and of course, showing up at town hall meetings across Oklahoma.

The controversial issue is getting more and more people involved in the political process and what's going on in Washington, D.C.

08/12/2009  Related Story:  Oklahoma's Congressional Town Hall Meetings Underway

Whether it was hosted by the lone Democrat in Oklahoma's Congressional delegation or whether it was questions and answers with one of the few doctors serving in the U.S. Senate.

Oklahoma lawmakers are seeing people by the thousands upset about the health care overhaul.

"It's got passionate people that are fearful of uncertainty," said Rogers State University Political Science Professor Kenneth Hicks.

Rogers State University Political Science professor Kenneth Hicks isn't surprised at the vocal turnout, both in Oklahoma and nationwide.

"I think this is sort of a remanifestation of caucus politics.  The best organized and passionate side tends to rule the day," said Rogers State University Political Science Professor Kenneth Hicks.

"Since I've been elected, I've had hundreds of town hall meetings," said Democratic Congressman Dan Boren.

But, Congressman Dan Boren says he's now seeing four to five times the turnout compared to his usual town hall meeting.

Senator Tom Coburn is getting five times the mail.

Attendance at Congresswoman Mary Fallin's town halls is up 40%.  Congressmen Tom Cole and Frank Lucas are seeing three times as many people.

"They're watching CNN, they're watching Fox and they are getting a conservative perspective, or a liberal perspective, and it's getting everybody really angry, but not especially well informed," said Rogers State University Political Science Professor Kenneth Hicks.

Hicks says what makes the forums unique is that the passion doesn't surround an election, but rather a piece of legislation.   He's pleased to see more people involved, but doesn't think it will have lasting momentum.

"Frankly the fuel burns itself out, and the American populace has demonstrated a tendency to kind of get fired up and then to tend toward quiescence over time," said Rogers State University Political Science Professor Kenneth Hicks.

Congressman John Sullivan and Congresswoman Mary Fallin join together with members of the Tulsa County Medical Society on Wednesday night.

Senator Coburn is holding two town hall meetings on Thursday in Bartlesville and Bristow.