In spite of the heat, over an hour before the town hall meeting was scheduled to begin well over 200 concerned citizens had lined up across the courtyard and along the buildings of Bucknell University. Aside from proponents of Clean Energy for America, local news stations and the county sheriff also made an appearance. The line, which eventually ran down the stairs and along the street, buzzed with activity. Some people carried signs. Several carried cameras. Many had papers, excerpts of the healthcare bill, guaranteed to be longer than Specter's attention span when he'd "read" the bill.
At first advanced upon by supporters of healthcare reform, we listened patiently while a man handed out packets of information regarding the bill. However, when the Clean Energy for America woman found herself chatting with someone who'd worked with the USDA for years and someone who'd intensely studied the environment, she quickly wished us a good day and continued down the line.
The line soon included over 1,000 Democrats and Republicans, though party affiliation no longer seemed to matter. The pressing issue was healthcare, and speaking with Arlen Specter. However, five minutes prior to the scheduled commencement time, the line was cut off, and I was left standing mere feet away from the entrance to the auditorium. The rest of us were herded off to a separate building to watch the meeting from a screen. As we crammed into the auditorium, spilling into the aisles, I couldn't help but notice how many young people were in attendance. Several college students, some who proved to be conservative throughout the course of the town hall meeting, speckled the audience here and there, their young faces standing out in the crowd of primarily middle-aged and senior citizen attendees.
As the screen turned on and Specter began to speak, calls for quiet silenced anyone who was talking. Everyone collectively focused on the screen, and one by one, the majority of the thirty questioners began handing Specter his head.