BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Orchestrated unruly mobs of misinformed, angry, rightwing Republicans are successfully frustrating efforts of members of Congress to hold informative town hall public meetings with constituents. Armed with pamphlets and talking points printed off Republican web sites, these sign-carrying, shouting barbarians come to public meetings to disrupt and not to discuss.
Literally, we have seen nothing like this since the Vietnam War protesters of the 1960’s. Even then the protests were mostly outdoors in public streets and public places, not during efforts to hold a deliberative meeting on the subject of war and peace.
These misinformed, loud, rude people come to meetings to shout and carry signs making false charges against health care reform, desperately needed by so many in this country. Maybe it would be different – I am not sure – if these folk were right. But it shouldn’t. Disorderly, disruptive people are violating the law and they should be arrested and hauled into court. It was so with the war protesters who got out of line, and so it should be with these wing-nuts.
This is NOT democracy in action. The actions of these crude, crazy people constitute the trashing of the democratic processes. They did not come to hear or to discuss in any orderly fashion. They came to disrupt with disorderly conduct. They are an angry mob.
What turns ordinary people into an angry mob? We saw some of it in the so-called tea parties arranged by Republicans to protest taxation and rouse the emotions of ordinary, unthinking people. Fill such a group with enough lies, make them feel threatened or victimized, and then foment their emotions to the point of irrationality. Give them a script. This is their formula.
We should have seen this coming with health care. All objective views show this nation’s health care system broken, riddled with greed and class discrimination. Even the providers themselves, doctors and hospital people, see the need for reform. Millions have no health care insurance. Millions more have insufficient policies that are subject to the whims of HMO’s or insurance companies’ administrators and interpretation of the fine print.
The current system is too unwieldy and too costly for our businesses and industries to provide expensive employee coverage and still compete globally. It is so costly that premiums are rising and deductibles are increasing, putting a pinch on workers whose insurance costs have been increasing eight times the rate of their wages.
The ones really threatened by reform are the insurance companies – not their insured.
The insurance companies support Republican leaders, certain other Republicans, and some conservative Democrats with huge campaign contributions in order to delay or defeat health care efforts in the Congress. The also pay for trash advertising telling lies and threatening old people, insured people, and branding health care reform efforts as a socialist government take-over of the whole health care system. Not so.
Some scripting is noticeable in these unruly crowds of right wing activists. Their signs include the lies told them about euthanasia of the elderly, bureaucrats’ decisions vs. doctors’, socialized medicine, rationing care, and the government takeover. On all of these, the activists are tools of the insurance companies against the welfare of people like themselves.
But, very importantly, there is another kind of sign – “Don’t tax us to give health insurance to others.” This tells us all of this commotion is tied to the rightwing, anti-tax movement within the Republican Party. Some of the same raucous “tea party” people are involved; their signs and their shouts are similar. This is the base of the movement.
The Republican Party must accept responsibility for their hooliganism. Their leaders not only condone but encourage these rowdy, bullying tactics. This must make some ordinary, decent, rational conservatives feel ashamed. They should do something about it, or start a new party of their own.
The utter disdain for either truth or courtesy by these people is beyond belief. We would not think such to be possible in a civilized society. These people show no signs of civility, and thus would have to be termed uncivilized – even socially barbaric in a modern sense of that term.
Have we really come to this?
– Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer