Yesterday, News Junkie Post ran my opinion on the Astroturf protests happening at town hall meetings across the country. It made front page on Digg, which brought out the very finest complainers and was quickly buried. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with those who disagree with me, especially when they end up proving my point. Anyway, a common complaint was that there were no cites to the article. My original, reprinted below, did have cites. I’m not sure what happened between my final and publishing. I submit my work via email on Word and the News Junkie publishers post. I assure you, I backed up every claim. Below is the original submission to News Junkie Post, with links to sources.
I was raised, as most of us were, to respect our elders. It’s good policy. They have years of experience and valuable insight. Most of the time, they offer good advice. That said, they’re not always right. In fact, they can be downright stubborn about things. Firmly set in their ways, like dry concrete. They’ve been known to have a, “that’s how it is, and that’s how it will always be” attitude and will fight any threats to their acceptable comfort range, regardless if it will help them or not. This would explain why I’ve seen so many of them at the manufactured protests taking place at Congressional Town Halls around the country.
I say manufactured because they’ve been built by the same conservative lobbying groups that gave us the Tax Day Tea Parties. These groups like say that they’re grassroots organizations, the conservative equivalent of MoveOn.org. Unlike MoveOn.org, which is funded by regular folks like us, these conservative groups, mainly FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, are funded by big corporate money. It’s not grassroots, it’s Astroturf; as fake as the Brady Bunch back yard.
How does one manufacture protest? It’s actually pretty simple, especially when the base is already riled up. The lobbyists know that they believe that ACORN helped steal the election. They believe that he is a Kenyan. They believe he’s the Antichrist. They believe that he’s a socialist, and/or communist, and/or fascist. They don’t like all the Government intervention. They don’t like the stimulus. They don’t like the bailouts. They don’t like energy reform. They don’t like peas.* And they certainly don’t like health care reform.
To them, health care reform brings this country one step closer to socialism. More Government interference and more Government spending, a/k/a socialism. They fear rationed care and waiting in long lines, a/k/a the DMV scare. Some even believe that health care reform will allow for the mass euthanization of the elderly, a/k/a the Old Yeller directive.
With all this hate and anger swirling around, all the lobbyst has to do is focus that energy into a movement. Work the websites and reinforce their fears. Get them so mad that they’re willing to take that anger to the streets! Fire them up enough to travel to town halls outside their district.
Finally, and most important, give them a script. Tell them to go to these town halls with the express goal to rattle the host. Make him or her look bad! Cheer your cohorts when they ask questions and shout down the Representative when they try to answer. Make sure to put on an especially good show for the cameras. That way, the media will have no choice but to show support for reform dying. Intimidate! Should anybody in the crowd be so naive as to want reform, shout at them and tell them to sit down. Express your Constutional rights to free speech and protest! But under no circumstances allow a differing view point to express theirs. In other words, exercise your rights while squashing the opposition’s.
I watch the footage of these protests and notice that the majority of the protesters are about 10 years from retirement, if they haven’t retired already. All of them will get Medicare, which is Government run health care. The irony is, these folks are too dense to understand that Medicare is a public system administered by the Government! Check out this exchange from Rep. Gene Greene’s (D-TX) town hall:
During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.
This, my friends, is what really gets my goat. These people, who fight for the liberties of free speech and protest, as well as the scourage of socialism, want me to pay for their Government supplied health benefits at retirement. But ask them to kick in on a Government plan for everybody, and it’s like they’ve been asked to switch from WordPerfect to Word (What?). On top of that, they’re too dumb to realize that they’re being manipulated by corporate interests that are loving the chaos these numbskulls are creating.
What’s most frustrating is the fact that every one of us, those with insurance and those without, will be infinitely better off with strong health care reform. Instead, these protesters allow their rage to blind them as they work against their own interests. Their corporate masters have fanned the flames hate, distributed torches and pitchforks and ordered them to win at all costs. They’re doing it with glee.
As an optimist, I don’t hate back. In fact, I hope that, in the end, they all get stellar health care!
*I am fully aware that the like or dislike of peas have no political boundaries and that one side does not like or dislike them more than the other, so save your indignation.