09/12/09 — The march: They came in droves to send a message: They are paying attention

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The march: They came in droves to send a message: They are paying attention

Thousands took on Washington this weekend to send a message to the Congress, President Barack Obama and anyone else who would listen: They are not just going to sit back and watch anymore.

And it is about time, really.

There have been way too many Americans who have not worried too much at all about what their government was doing -- or what it was costing them or their children.

So when the health reform town halls began, many members of Congress were surprised when rooms overflowed and tempers flared.

They were used to partisan, understanding and supportive crowds who came for support, not to question -- and they did not like this new development.

So, the next day, the headlines ran red with commentators and government officials labeling the citizens who did speak as malcontents with nothing but disruption on their minds. They called them every name in the book -- most of which suggested they did not have a right to be there stirring up trouble and that they should not have piped up during those so-called town meetings.

But their insults, and their hypocrisy, did not work.

The crowds have not stopped growing in this debate -- and neither have the questions. Americans have figured out that their voices can make a difference, and they are not going to stop speaking, not now.

The truth is that the reason health care reform has hit a snag is that so many from so many different walks of life have decided to band together to make sure it is done right, done responsibly and done without partisan bulldozing from either side.

And even the president seems to understand, that when the people speak, Congress listens.

So after years of sitting back timidly, even some of the most silent lawmakers are getting a backbone and speaking up, demanding to be heard in the debate.

And that is the reason that this country is likely to actually find a real solution to the health care concerns that everyone admits need to be addressed.

Those who gathered in Washington were not paid partisans or handpicked crowds. They were real Americans who decided that coming out to tell their leaders what they want and don't want for their country was way more important than anything else they had to do on a Saturday afternoon.

And that -- not the stock market, politicians' speeches or any other measure -- is why there is plenty of reason to trust that this nation has a bright future ahead -- and why we should all be proud to be Americans.

Published in Editorials on September 12, 2009 11:31 PM