Two sides of the same coin
Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the opposition stretches across the aisle, and all across the nation. Democrats do themselves no favors in painting with a broad brush here.
DrewM at AoSHQ "borrowed" Charles Krauthammer's take on the opponents to the reform at the town halls from NRO's The Corner:
The Democrats are pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and the Republicans (or conservatives) are handing the Democrats the rabbit. The Democrats have no argument. They have no facts. They don't even really have a bill.
And if people were just to stand up and quietly and civilly raise questions — "the money doesn't add up," "the CBO has said that you say it is going to control costs, but it increases it by $1 trillion," all of this stuff, it's really out there — they would be winning this debate as they were before the town halls.
What's happening is this is causing a backlash. It's completely unnecessary. It is shooting yourself in the foot. If you want to demonstrate, you want to shout, you do it outside carrying signs. When you walk inside [the town hall meeting], you ask questions.
This is going to have two effects. Public opinion will make people, if anything, rather unsympathetic to those who oppose the bills.
And secondly, it's going to give a great excuse for the Democrats, when Congress returns, to push a partisan bill with no Republican support and say it's because the opposition is not — is simply oppositionist without any arguments and is acting in an irresponsible way.
Dr. Krauthammer, a good majority of the people at the town halls do stand up and ask direct questions in a civil manner. It only turns a tad surly when the people in the audience are lied to, and they know they're being lied to. Who likes being lied to, directly, by their elected representatives, especially on such a heavy topic. No offense, but the government is trying to seize one-sixth of the US economy in this stupid reform. And people aren't getting straight answers from these representatives. Anyone can read this bill, and many who are challenging our reps at these events are hitting them with questions about the bill, and they're taking those questions from what the bill says.
The president still maintains that if you like your health care or doctor, you can keep them. That's not true at all, which shows either he's lying, or he doesn't know what's in the bill. There are several provisions in the bill that specifically state that if something changes in your health care contract -- copays, deductibles, etc. -- your employer will have to dump you in a qualified, government plan. Even after it becomes law, your employer will have a five year grace period before being forced to dump you into the government's plan. If you provide your own insurance, that you pay for it, you'll have less time before being forced into a government plan.
Pages 167-168 of the House bill states that when you file your taxes if you can't prove to the IRS you're in a qualified, government plan, you'll be fined a ton of money; thousands of dollars equal if not surpassing the cost of a current health care plan. And after you pay the fine, you'll be RANDOMLY enrolled in a qualified plan.
Now, can Dr. Krauthammer claim that we still don't have a right to be a tad ticked at the people lying to us about their plan. I might add that if they've read the bill they're knowingly and willfully lying in an attempt to deceive the American public into supporting a bill that is neither reform for the health care industry, nor will it cut costs. So when we do walk into the meetings, we're not there to pick a fight. We're there to call these people on the carpet, and our "imperial" congressmen and congresswomen are acting as though our questions are an affront to their regal authority.
And as for his last point about what it'll enable the Democrats to do, I don't see that at all. What I see happening is as word spreads that people are being attacked by union thugs, slandered by member of Congress, and to inform on one another if they disagree with the House's bill the opposition will grow to proportions not seen since 2006 when the Senate tried to ram through an immigration reform package that was short on reform and long on amnesty.
We like Dr. Krauthammer. He's a brilliant man, like Thomas Sowell. But he's a Beltway guy, and has spent too much time covering Beltway politics from the inside. Like all Beltway types, he needs to take a step back, and look at what's going on across the country. See the ire of the people as they're lied to, repeatedly, by people they put their trust in. Try reading the bill and see exactly what Congress has planned for the country. When you don't pull off the blinders and quit looking at the nation through a prism tarnished by Beltway politics, you'll never see just what the people are trying to do.
They're not being violent. They're not being rude. Frustration generally leads to raised voices. And that frustration continues to boil over when the person from Congress that is there lashes out at his/her opponents because their meeting isn't going the way they planned. It also doesn't help the issue when they start turning an open forum into a closed forum, or hiding from their constituents by conducting telephone town halls.
The other side of the coin comes from Michael Barone:
The Democrats’ health care bills have stirred widespread and deeply felt opposition. While some of the protests are organized, the turnout and strong feeling expressed indicate that we are watching something that is largely spontaneous. Try organizing such a protest when almost no one cares much about your issue: no one will show up. It’s the supporters of the Democrats’ health care bills, not their opponents, who are astroturfing—and spending plenty of moolah on television ads and the like.
The Democrats are spoiled because they are used to a mainstream media who spin things their way and a general public whose only expressions of spontaneous enthusiasm in 2006-08 were opposition to (if not hatred of) George W. Bush and support of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates. Now the spontaneous enthusiasm is all on the other side, with the Democratic astroturf efforts producing pathetic turnouts and largely spontaneous opposition to the Democratic health care plans producing large turnouts.That's the point Dr. Krauthammer doesn't get. For the most part the opposition to health care isn't organized. It's American citizens who have read this piece of crap bill, they're not happy with what they read, and they want to confront their members of Congress on it. BTW, for Dr. Krauthammer's benefit, the Barone piece has a picture accompanying it of two protesters standing OUTSIDE of a town hall, holding signs against the reform. Videos we've watched don't have people holding a bunch of signs in the town halls. (One video we saw -- the Sebelius/Specter town hall, I believe -- has three signs visible in the background.)
The people calling these fools on the carpet are doing just that. The shouting and yelling only occurs after the person holding the town hall directly lies to a questioner, or attacks them. Arlen Specter got snooty earlier today in Lebanon, PA, and it lead to a few people shouting that he worked and answered to them, not the other way around. That's the other thing we believe Dr. Krauthammer is missing. The Democrats are acting like imperial snobs on this issue. They act haughty, and bristle when they're questioned. When that happens they basically put off a physical, if not verbal, message of "How dare you question me."
For Dr. Krauthammer and the Democrats -- the Beltway, in general -- it is our duty to question things that the government does. It's inherent in the First Amendment. Maybe they should go back and study up on that, and instead of just reading the words, read what the Framers said about our rights, and how we, the people, are the last check, the last line of defense, when the government decides to overstep it's boundaries.Publius II