A woman objecting to health care reform at a democratic congressman’s town hall introduces herself as just a “concerned mom”, and claims she is not affiliated with any political party. Turns out, she was vice-chair of the county GOP until 2008, worked in the campaign for the congressman’s opponent, and on her online resume claims that she is affiliated with the Republican National Committee.
My favorite line in the video is where she protests that she hasn’t paid her Republican party dues for two years. I guess that’s proof that she’s non-partisan.
UPDATE: Read this personal account from one health care town hall meeting.
I’m actually okay with the Astroturfing, even if it’s not as “grass roots” as they would have us believe.
Over the past 50 years this kind of protesting has been done over and over, by people of all political stripes.
I do think they’re naive enough to believe that the rest of us think they’re just trying to create an open dialogue in opposition to the Democrats’ version of healthcare reform. Make no mistake, they’re there to disrupt the process. But disrupting the process by loud protests is an American tradition going back to the Civil Rights movement and on through Viet Nam and beyond.
And I certainly don’t have any issue with their opposition to a political stance that may be in opposition to my own regarding this subject.
But the *real* reason I have no problem with it is because the way in which they are protesting, and the disingenuous nature of some of their members’ statements and those of Fox News and Fox Nation really does them no good. It continues to paint them in the worst possible light. It plays right into the Democrats’ hands.
Why would anyone be upset about THAT?
But isn’t it nice that there are at least some signs of “Investigative journalism” here? They actually looked into her claims of “no political affiliation”. Maybe there is hope……
I’ve sat with some of our remaining local civil rights activists in Boston to discuss their experiences. I think they might describe what they did as forcing the process to incorporate non-whites, women, gays, anti-war activists etc into the dialogue. The exclusion from the process is what the protests, the sit-ins, and the other forms of non-violent action were about.
Indeed, the use of anything that smelled of violence was part of what led to the split the black civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. The Black Panthers and similar groups believed that direct confrontation (not necessarily violent, although unfortunately some took it that far) was needed; the SCLC and similar groups tried to stay as close to the Gandhian method as possible.
These meetings about health care reform are supposed to be a way to include more voices into the process. It is supposed to be how we as regular people can have influence on the decisions made by congressional representatives and to the balance the influence of lobbyists. The meetings are open to anyone because of this. But that is being exploited by these people. I wouldn’t call what their doing part of the modern American tradition of protest because their goal is to prevent people with different views from participating in the process of influencing our elected leaders.
Sammy is right in that many groups do use this tactic. But in my experience and in my research I’ve found that it almost always backfires, and in every case, has led to irreparable social divisions in the community. Whenever I’ve seen this tactic used, people drop out of the process because they don’t feel comfortable calling these people out, they don’t want to be confrontational with their neighbors, and they don’t want to risk being targeted by these crazy people (which almost always happens as the discussion goes on). These disruptions are very effective at making it difficult to have any meaningful discussion about difficult issues precisely because they make the discussion uncomfortable and confrontational.
In my view, it’s not the strategy of astro-turfing that is necessarily problematic here (I have separate issues with it). But this particular strategy of scorched-earth disruption is quite damaging to the sense of community and the willingness of people to be civically engaged.
When I lived in New Zealand, I was shocked (shocked I tell you) at the level of discourse there. When there was a problem, people (politicians, citizens, businesspeople) would sit down (can you believe it?) and have a rational discussion of the problem. Even people who had a strong vested interest in one solution, would often talk rationally about who the winners and losers would be, and how the solution could be modified to solve the problem for as many people as possible, while not making things really bad for any small minority. It was downright unamerican!
Those crazy New Zealanders. They managed to gain their independence without a war. The European immigrants even signed a treaty with the native people who were already there, and they (stupid idiots) kept their word!
Sammy is right. It is a strong american tradition to be *ssholes, so we should keep this tradition alive. After all, taking advantage of other people is what made this country great.
The old guy in the do-rag and sleeveless shirt……….. best “i’m just a regular guy” disguise ever. lol