Blue Texan at Firedoglake, after noting that the disruptors at a Texas town hall last week were organized by the Travis County Republican Chair, and how the disruptors seemed also to opposed Social Security and Medicare:
They’re just throwing a temper tantrum over “SOCIALISM!” — which in their wingnut brains applies to everything from TARP to the stimulus bill, and yes — to Social Security and Medicare.
They’re fringe, anti-government nihilists and they’re not interested in the government reforming health care, or anything else. The media, however, continue to frame these events as a referendum on health care reform, which they are not. One side wants to reform health care, the other wants to lynch the federal government.
This kind of sums up the key points we need to understand about the disruptors. It’s not really about health care to begin with, and it’s being inflamed not just by far-right front groups funded by corporations, but the Republican Party itself has deliberately decided to encourage and organize people to throw gurgling, babbling hissy fits.
So while some on the right put on their Chesire cat grin and proclaim that Democrats are somehow against ordinary Americans expressing themselves, it’s pretty clear which side is trying to prevent real debate. Their claims that we did such things to them are false and the result of the fevered imagination born of right wing victimhood, a necessary and ever-present mental contortion they use to justify wrong actions. A few Code Pink and such protestors here and there are simply not the same thing. Anyone can go pick out random incidents and make a false equivalence, a favorite tactic of the right.
Imagine, if you will, that during the lie-up to war the DNC and labor had adopted a deliberate strategy of shouting down Republicans at their district meetings, or anywhere else they appeared. Imagine that they hired tons of lobbyists and spent millions of dollars to do so. Imagine the airwaves, mainstream and not, filled with crazy-ass claims that George W. Bush was actually from another country and thus not the president. You get the idea.
As we all know, not only did that not happen, progressives had to show Democrats that they could win at the ballot box by vigorously defending basic Constitutional principles and at least talking about real problems like health care.
The only protestors I recall, for the most part, were individual Americans forlornly taking to the streets of our cities while many Democrats went along with the madness, and the protestors were often met with pepper spray and derisive cries of “traitors” from the right. What so offended the righties is that anyone would dare to oppose their madness, and they have now conflated peaceful, non-violent protest with their desire to destroy civil discourse once and for all.
As many have noted, it was only a few years ago that some Oregon teachers were removed from a Bush rally for daring to wear pro-Constitution t-shirts. I recall a public lecture series here in Vancouver during the Bush era, held on public property, at which a few anti-war protestors who desired only to silently hold small placards were escorted out of the venue, at the mayor’s insistence, by uniformed police, because their views were “insulting” or some such nonsense. Public resources were used to squash free speech, and the local newspaper didn’t seem to have much problem with it.
Yet here we are being lectured at by some of the same fools who couldn’t stand to have their eyeballs scalded by the searing sight of someone else’s views about the wrong-headed invasion of Iraq. Forgive me if I have had enough of the lies, the double standards and faux outrage.
What we did to the Republicans was beat them at the polls, and they can’t stand it. They can’t stand it so much they are throwing yet another magnificent, reprehensible hissy fit, mostly because it makes us mad. I guess we should get mad easier.
While it’s understandable that individual constituents may be confused and angry because of right wing distortions, or even not confused and angry for good reason, reasonable people will agree that a major political party deliberately shutting down public meetings as a strategy is petulant at best and dangerous to democracy itself at worst.
Leaving aside the real possibility that mentally unstable people will do bad things, here we have the remains of a reactionary conservative movement that built itself on “law and order” in reaction to the excesses of the 1960’s now behaving in the very manner it supposedly found so loathsome. History doesn’t always repeat itself, but it hardly seems like a winning strategy.
Sure, the obvious thing to do would be to shut down Republican town halls at every opportunity, if you can find any, up and down the ticket, but that’s well, too obvious. Far better to find creative ways to have real discussions, with or without the disruptors, and see if we can’t somehow make the health care system less nuts for regular people. I guess people who want to are going to yell and scream no matter what, but after they get done shouting and being rude there will still be the matter of tens of millions of Americans who have no health care insurance.
If this is the path Republicans continue to follow in their struggle to regain even a modicum of respect from most Americans, I’d have to say that in the long run we’ve already won.