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Jim Watkins

Jim Watkins

Posted: August 12, 2009 01:16 PM

Rage against Reform Won't Stop It


Listening to the people showing up at town hall meetings across the country to scream their opposition to President Obama's health care reform proposals, you would think this is a concept that was sprung on them after last November's election. It isn't. Barack Obama ran on a platform heavily invested in the idea of significant health care reform, and the creation of a public option for the purchase of health insurance. From what I recall of the campaign, he spoke of it often. And he won. By a wide margin. Had enough people not liked what they heard about his ideas on health care reform, he might have lost. He didn't.

I only bring up this Politics 101 lesson because the town hall screamers--I refer here to the ones who seem to be following a playbook dictated by health care lobbyists, as well as "freelancers" who are enhancing their message with painted swastikas and death threats aimed at members of Congress willing to come out to hear constituent thoughts on the issue--seem to have the twisted point of view that the duly-elected administration and Congressional majorities are thwarting the will of the people rather than following it.

So I find it interesting that one of the main tactics of some of the town hall protestors is equating the President and his policies with totalitarian regimes, even employing the great argument-ender that throws every debate permanently out of whack--Hitler and Nazi Germany (I'm still trying to figure out how the President and his administration can be linked with both Nazism and Communism, two completely opposing philosophies.. but, whatever). Really, though, the people trying to disrupt these town hall meetings are the ones throwing a wrench into the workings of democracy. They're the ones silencing viewpoints that differ from theirs. Can you say "projection?"

It might work for them this time. The shouting and the intimidation seem to have supporters of reform, including the President, back on their heels, and the media has been quite complicit in making this minority view seem more like the majority. But all they're going to succeed in doing in the long run is further shrinking the conservative movement into an aging, white, mostly Southern political subcategory. Health care reform including a public insurance option will pass eventually, as long as a significant majority of Americans keep voting for people who are calling for it. That's what the American system is based on, not on who can scream the loudest or make up the most false rumors.