Yesterday I had the privilege of being a part of a tele-townhall meeting held by Senator Jim DeMint. Several things about the meeting leapt out at me, and rather than try to describe everything that happened (I wasn't taking notes at the time), I'll relate some of my impressions.
First of all, I think it's a bad sign for our country that even among a conservative voting base such as that in South Carolina, probably 25-33% of the questions that Senator DeMint fielded were along the lines of "My spouse lost his/her job and we're poor now and have this other problem that we didn't expect and how can you help us?" Granted, the government offers numerous assistance programs and it's appropriate for people to request help in navigating the ridiculous bureaucracy that is our nations federal government, but seriously! Do you WANT everyone else to know (there was an average of 5000 or so people on the call) that you have problems and are throwing yourself abjectly at the feet of the government hoping for assistance? This issue had me gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair.
Now, Senator DeMint did not belittle these people, and pointed out that there are some obligations that the government has incurred with respect to some of these people, and that those obligations need to be honored. Sometimes it does take a Senators staff to make things happen, but that, in my eyes is just a sign of how corrupted our government and our society has become.
Senator DeMint addressed numerous issues relating to the stimulus bill, the IMF bailout, and the nomination of Judge Sotomayor. He pointed out that the stimulus bill was bad for the nation, that the IMF bailout was a terrible thing, and that the Democrats frequently put things like that into "good" bills as amendments in order to make it politically unpalatable for Republicans to vote against them. He said that he asked Judge Sotomayor about when she thought life began and when the government should begin to protect life (I don't think that was the exact formulation of his question, but it addresses the heart of the subject). According to Senator DeMint, Judge Sotomayor responded that she "hadn't put any thought into it."
He affirmed that life begins at conception, and that the government should feel obligated to protect the lives of its citizens from that moment forward. He did not address Judge Sotomayors nomination any further at that time.
In addition, there were several polls conducted during the course of the call, including "does the federal government spend too much?" and "Should the government have more control over health care?" as well as at least one more that I can't recall off the top of my head.
He talked for a while about the health care proposal by the current administration, and why it's a bad thing. He actually used direct quotes from the Redstate posts of the past few days, including pointing out how many uninsured people would be covered by the changes in health care, and how we could provide them all with direct BCBS coverage for less than the changes are expected to cost.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope I get another chance to participate again. I never had an opportunity to ask any questions (mostly because I couldn't think of any really good ones). I thought briefly about asking if Senator DeMint would be willing to be cloned 534 times in order to ensure that we had a decent congress, but decided against it.