Larry Buschon, Indiana’s 8th District Congressman considers the health of residents of SW Indiana expendable. In twenty-five votes he cast in his first two months in office he voted against environmental and health protections in all but one, and that was a bill that concerned the area of northern California and southern Oregon.
Five of those votes had direct negative impact on the health of citizens in his district. He voted to strip the EPA of their regulatory authority to set standards on toxic air pollution like mercury, setting stronger standards for fine particles, clean water protections, coal ash and protections of streams from coal mining.
Thus, I looked forward to confronting him with his dismal record at his Town Hall meeting where he ostensibly proclaimed with a huge projected sign, “We want to hear from You.”
I went to the meeting planning to use the same style tactics that were so successful when used by the Tea Party in 2009 when they confronted members of congress about their healthcare positions: be loud, be angry and hold them accountable.
There was only one difference. Buschon had me removed from the meeting while the Tea Partiers were free to do their thing.
In a TV interview after the Town Hall, Buschon claimed that he was threatened by my actions and that is why he had me removed. Threatened by what? A loud mouthed, angry citizen, expressing his views? If he felt threatened in any way, I am sure that it was due to his understanding that his record on protecting the health of his constituents was being called out and that the decorum he had desired for the meeting was interrupted. After all, the people who had reputations for that sort of behavior were the people who propelled him into office, not the passive left that previously had been the objects of such vitriol.
I did not threaten Buschon in any way and if I had, I am sure that I would have spent some time in the pokey.
I find the hypocrisy very telling.
Funny thing though about someone who chooses to exercise their free speech like I have done-I get arrested in 2002 for passively standing across from a fund raiser for Dick Cheney doing nothing more than holding a sign while I have seen news coverage of people armed with AK15s protesting at appearances by Barack Obama.
And now, I am escorted from a supposed Town Hall meeting for employing the same tactics used by the Tea Party.
Yes, I am angry with Buschon.
His votes so far could result in untold human suffering and as a physician, he should be more concerned for human health and support the stronger protections EPA is seeking to implement. But instead, he has chosen to cast his lot with the polluters using some sort of convoluted right wing, anti-regulatory ideology that will only serve to increase his business as a heart surgeon when he returns to private life-a time that, hopefully for his constituents, will not be too far in the future.
JOHN BLAIR is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who serves as president of the environmental health advocacy group Valley Watch in Evansville, IN. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland, edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank. (AK Press) His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org