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Destroying Democracy with Wingnuts

August 9th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

This past week, town hall meetings on health care reform have been disrupted and reduced to shouting matches and ranting sessions by hardcore right-wing lunatics spouting ridiculous lies about the proposed legislation. Everything about these so-called protests pisses me off, and each thing pisses me off more than the last.

First of all, a town hall meeting is probably the last thing this country has even resembling true democracy, and these protesters have to go and fuck even that up with their tactics of screaming and shouting their Limbaugh/Beck talking points just to disrupt—as opposed to participate in—the process. It would be one thing if they made their bullshit point and gave the speaker a chance to respond with the facts, but they are operating according to tactics specifically designed to prevent that from happening.

Second of all, these talking points are completely and utterly false. A provision that funds optional counseling sessions regarding a living will does not mean that ACORN is coming to kill your grandmother. Funding for abortions does not mean mandatory abortions for everyone. And a public option does not mean the government will completely take over the system and start rationing care based on a person’s perceived social utility. Oh, and Barack Obama is not trying to kill Sarah Palin’s child with Down Syndrome, one of her favorite political props.

But if the lie is big enough and stupid enough, then a bunch of stupid people are going to believe it, and as a result you get these half-wits showing up at town-hall meetings and having nervous-breakdowns, throwing temper-tantrums and hissy-fits about how “their America”—the American they knew and loved and grew up in (i.e. a majority white, Christian nation) is being destroyed and how it scares the shit out of them.

I might even sympathize with these people if they weren’t so fucking obnoxious. They can’t be blamed for their poor intelligence—that’s genetic—but they act like they’re the smart ones and everyone who “uses big words” is just trying to bamboozle and trick them into not believing what they know in their gut to be true. After all, if it wasn’t true then why would they be so scared?

I just want to grab them and slap them in the face repeatedly shouting, “What the fuck are you so afraid of? Why are you such a fucking coward that you’re afraid of a president who can’t even convince members of his own party to vote for his bill? You’re afraid of a president who can’t even regulate the banks because he doesn’t want to make any enemies on Wall Street? Who can’t overturn Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell because it’s too risky? You’re afraid that Barry Obama is really going to take all of the white man’s wealth and redistribute it to minorities, to turn this country into a Stalinist dictatorship and set up concentration camps to kill off the weak and disabled? Really? You’re really afraid of that?”

Well, they are, and unfortunately this country will always have its share (like any country) of backward ignorant religious folks who will believe anything and cower in fear over the slightest suggestion of any kind of change. So as angry as they make me, I can’t be too angry with them.

I’m much angrier at the people who, with complete awareness of what they’re doing, are manipulating and exploiting these people for their own financial gain at the expense of the good of the country, including the very “take your goddamn government hands of my medicare” idiots that they’re using. I’m talking about these groups like Americans for Prosperity and Conservatives for Patient’s Rights that spend all kinds of money first lying to wingnuts to make them believe these absurdities about the health-care bill, then bussing them around to districts they don’t even live in so they can express their outrage over these absurdities, and finally arm them with instructions for how completely disrupt the meetings and prevent any actual democracy from happening.

There really ought to be a law against this kind of thing, as it’s not just “dirty politics” but downright despicable human behavior as this eats away at the very foundation of democratic society. The people barely have a voice at all in their government in the first place—every few years they get to say “yay” or “nay” to their elected representative about whom they know only what they are told, and half of what they hear comes from the representative in the first place. But every now and then they get to meet the representative, pose questions, demand answers, and perhaps make some suggestions about how they-the-governed would like to be governed. But when you’ve got entrenched interests who are currently earning a fortune off the broken system deliberately undermining democracy in order to perpetuate that broken system from which they are profiting—well, it just seems like the kind of thing that really ought to be illegal. If undermining the foundations of democratic society isn’t against the law, then why even bother having laws in the first place?

But the biggest villains in this whole mess that I can see are those in the mainstream media who know damn well that these protests are manufactured by giant lobbying firms on behalf of the industries benefiting from the broken system, yet they choose to just play along and present this as though it was a genuine grass-roots uprising of intelligent, informed Americans who understand the health-care plan perfectly and are patriotically rising up to do whatever they can to kill it and thus save America from the evil forces of fascism and socialism. That is not what this is. It should not be reported at such.

Kudos must go once again to Rachel Maddow who has made a clear presentation of the facts, following the money trail and tracing the roots of these protests all the way to their architects, many of whom were (surprise surprise) key players in the Bush administration and are now lobbyists for the health insurance industry.

On Thursday night Maddow interviewed Timothy Philips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, to confront him with the accusations she’s been making. Clearly a master of spin, Philips painted a picture of his lobbying firm as a champion of community organizing, bringing together real people with real grievances from all over the country and allowing them to make their voices heard on this issue. Sure, his company takes lots and lots of money from the oil industry and other such powerful interests, but according to Philips, corporations are people too and why shouldn’t they have a voice in the democratic process? Rachel seemed as though she was struggling not to laugh at the absurdity, but there are people out there who will swallow that argument without a second thought, thinking, “You know, he’s right. Exxon is in America so why shouldn’t we let Exxon have a say in what the American government does?” As though Exxon and the other mega-corporations including Wall Street banks and Health Insurance providers don’t already dictate what the American government does.

If Maddow were your standard cable-news bloviator she might have shouted him down and cut off his mike, but she gave him treatment that was not only fair, but perhaps a little too fair, as he was able to successfully spin what his foundation is doing—undermining democracy—into its exact opposite: aiding and promoting democracy. But not content with that victory alone, Philips ended the interview by going on the offensive against Maddow herself, saying that “his side was winning” the health-care debate precisely because people like Maddow were talking about things like his organization rather than what’s in the bill itself. And to a certain degree he has a point—even Maddow and Olbermann, two of the most liberal commentators on television, have spent very little time talking about the actual policy in the health-care debate and instead have just gone after its opponents. The opponents, in the mean-time, have actually been talking about actual policies, as fictitious as those policies may be.

Still, while I would like to see Rachel Maddow talk more about policy, it’s still important to have somebody out there talking about the opponents just to broadcast the information about who these opponents actually are and who they are not. Who they are: big corporations and lobbyists in Washington. Who they are not: ordinary Americans concerned about the health care system. It’s a shame that this is only being reported by a couple of shows on MSNBC that conservatives would never watch in the first place, because it’s something every American really ought to know.

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