This evening (12/28) my wife and I will host one of the health care community discussions that will take place around the nation at the behest of the Obama transition team. The discussion will be seeded by a discussion guide. Emphasis is on people's personal stories about their experiences with the health care system. I will be reporting after the event on how it went, and eventually on how the Obama administration used the responses.
This is not a trivial effort for those who take the task seriously. The guidelines call for photos, videos, and a detailed written narrative report to be submitted.
This is a very ambitious thing to undertake. It boggles the mind to contemplate how (and if) members of the transition team staff will sift through these responses and arrive at some sort of coherent summary. For one thing, those most likely to attend and participate are those who already support the Obama agenda. If this is not the case--if you are participating in one of these meetings attended by those who do not support Obama's agenda--I would like to hear from you and report on your personal experience.
I have no doubt that the meeting we hold will be interesting and clarifying for our friends and neighbors who attend. Many of them are well informed, and most have personal "war stories" about their health insurance. That may be the major benefit of these meetings: to cause a lot of the electorate to engage the issue at a deeper level and to acquire for themselves an informed opinion. This would be a big departure from the sound-bite understanding that special interest groups try to implant with advertising.