Instead of Wordless Wednesday, I am using my blog today to decry a tactic being used to try to kill one of our most important American rights: the right to have an intelligent, thoughtful debate on issues. Organized mobs are intimidating lawmakers, disrupting town halls, and silencing real discussion about the need for real health insurance reform. This is shameful. This is what the First Amendment is all about, folks: Being able to hold a town meeting to discuss something without fear, intimidation or threats. I am absolutely appalled that people who claim to be good citizens are trying the win the argument by simply shouting until their opposition cannot be heard. If ever anything qualified as un-American, this is it. It does not matter whether the issue is Health Care Reform, a leash law or something in between in importance, these “grass roots” have forgotten that we all have a right to be heard.
- 5 facts about the anti-reform mobs
- 1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same folks who made the “Swiftboat” ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.
- 2. People are scared because they are being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President’s plan and scare voters. But as the President has repeatedly said, health insurance reform will create more health care choices for the American people, not reduce them. If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no “government takeover” in any part of any plan supported by the President or Congress.
- 3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Texas protesters brought signs displaying a tombstone for Rep. Lloyd Doggett and using the “SS” symbol to compare President Obama’s policies to Nazism. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting — and more examples like this come in every day. And they have gone beyond just trying to derail the President’s health insurance reform plans, they are trying to “break” the President himself and ruin his Presidency.
- 4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information. One attack group has even published a manual instructing protesters to “stand up and shout” and try to “rattle” lawmakers to prevent them from talking peacefully with their constituents.
- 5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”