Below is a video slideshow of our day spent in the crowds. As it turned out, the anti-reform protesters were greatly outnumbered by those supporting reform. Both sides became excited. There was shouting.
Organizing for America, the successor to the president's campaign apparatus was out in full force with a concert, free drinks, snacks and many signs. The contingent against health care reform hugged a corner opposite those for reform, shouting loudly to drown out their counterparts' chants.
One thing was clear throughout the day: People against reform were troubled by more than just Obama's health care plan. Almost every anti-reform demonstrator we talked to expressed fear of what they perceived to be increased government control, spending and invasion into their daily lives. A number of people told us that this isn't just about President Obama. Some have been angry since the Bush administration, others don't trust government at all. A few people spewed out remarks against the president that were reminiscent of those seen at campaign rallies for Gov. Sarah Palin last year. We even met two Birthers -- obviously misinformation was strongly represented. When we asked people for evidence or to clarify their positions with the facts they just continued with their talking points.
The rhetoric is nothing new. The president took time during the town hall to rail against "dishonest" arguments. However, what is new is that many of the people against the president's agenda -- "dishonest" or not -- are using the health care debate as a vehicle to campaign against him. After eight months of a new administration, we're hearing language similar to what dominated the airwaves during the final months of the election. So much for change, at least for those who didn't want change brought by Obama in the first place.