BY JAMES NIMMO
Sen. James Inhofe’s OKC staff is AFRAID of opposite-party constituent crowds and allergic to grass – grassroot ideas, that is.
So it would seem judging by the rejection [I started to type “reception”] a crowd of 50 Oklahoma taxpayers received Thursday at Republican Inhofe’s tax-paid office digs in 50 Penn Place.
The occasion was a nationwide display on July 9 of grassroots support for a national health care plan that would provide a reasonable alternative to the collect-payments-and-deny-coverage business plan of Big Insurance.
As we gathered in front of Full Circle Bookstore waiting, chatting and meeting new people, catching up on the news, generally lolling around like shoppers do and hardly looking any different from shoppers [though there’s not much to shop for at 50 Penn Place, vacant as much of the retail space seems to be], it was surprising that a security guard told us we had to leave, that assembling to peacefully petition our government – in this case, the sorry excuse for a senator, James Inhofe – was just not in the cards.
We were blocking entrances and customer flow, he claimed, though we would have been welcomed with open arms had we been disguised as GOPers with multiple credit cards to flash.
Our security guard dog was under the impression that any group of people must be a rally whether signs are waving or just being held in flaccid anticipation as our signs were.
Poor man, he must have little experience with a grassroots, progressive rally if he thought that by standing around in the lobby we’d actually begun a rally for a true nationwide health insurance plan, such as the one now-President Obama campaigned for.
You remember, it’s the plan that Big Insurance is spending over $1 million a day to defeat.
Well, we were told to move out, so we did; right up the escalator to the elevator to Inhofe’s office. By the time five elevators had lifted us to the 12th floor AND the media was in place, including KTOK, KSBI , Associated Press, and OETA [sharing with FOX 25], and Nathaniel Batchelder who had brought a car full of Peace Camp Teens to participate in a peaceful exercise of the First Amendment, we had quite a collection of people.
But Inhofe’s staff was not very hospitable. Only two, you know, like the ark, could come into the office. Not two at a time in sequence, but only two, period!
What a very sly tactic to use. Install your tax-paid office in a posh office building, like a gated community, and then you claim it’s private property and off limits to those unwashed, sweating, uninsured tax payers who make it all possible. When the crowd is not to Inhofe’s liking then his staff claims space limitations and when that doesn’t work calls for security to threaten us with trespassing.
How is gathering to peacefully petition a government representative who is salaried by our tax dollars, whose office is equipped by taxpayers even down to the paper clips, reasonably determined to be trespassing?
We were there during normal business hours and no rude or uncivil behavior was seen. GOPer Rep. Mary Fallin’s office tried the same cheap trick a couple of years ago at her office in the First National Center in downtown OKC.
The scare tactic didn’t work then and it didn’t work today. Our rookie organizer, Jeff Brown, did an excellent job in talking with the Inhofe staff, security, and the media, keeping right on track that our message was about getting substantial and meaningful health care to ALL Americans regardless of income, political party, or age.
After all, Inhofe enjoys the best medical care we taxpayers can provide, so why isn’t what’s good for the goose also good for the gander?
I assume he enjoys it because I called the Inhofe OKC office when I got home and neither “Brian” nor “Sabrina” or “Cathy” in the Tulsa office could even tell me if THEY enjoy the security of tax paid health insurance.
Remarkably uninformed and close mouthed employees Inhofe has working for him and so well trained as well.
I wonder if speaking French and eating cake is requisite for working in Inhofe’s office?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. In spite of Guard Dog, I saw two women slip in and have a short meeting with Inhofe’s staff, possibly, a “Mrs. Hightower.” During this time Jeff Brown made a very good speech about the need for national health care and personal stories were related which I guess Inhofe’s staff will have to hear about on this evening’s news because they didn’t hear from us face-to-face. With the hundred-fold signature petition nearly slipped under the door, and only at the last minute accepted by the Inhofe staff, our purpose was done and we dispersed.
Outside, at street side, our rally continued with signs held for passing traffic to read. Now there was a real confrontation as some Internet stalkers had evidently read the websites and were there on the same easement with opposing signs claiming they weren’t going to pay for other people’s health care and “irresponsibility”! http://tinyurl.com/lq5haz
I kid you not. These guys think getting sick or injured is all about personal responsibility, no ifs, ands, or buts. Well, there WERE a lot of butts attached to rednecks who’re afraid of change; the change for the better that will have to come if President Obama wants to keep the majority in Congress in 2010 and intends to run and win a second term in 2012.
– James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is an occasional contributor to The Oklahoma Observer