Ohio’s 4th Congressional District representative Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) held a town hall meeting at the University of Findlay on Monday September 19th. In the reddest of red areas of Ohio he still had to spar with some unhappy constituents. They peppered him with questions about the failed Republican economic agenda and the continued outsourcing of jobs. Jordan’s unsupported tired GOP talking points didn’t seem to help.
Congress is in recess until September. At these times many go back to their districts and have town hall meetings with constituents to find out their views on issues the Congress member has been dealing with. It is one way to take the temperature of the electorate. During this recess and with health care reform on the table, conservative groups have been organizing so-called “grassroots” protests at the town hall meetings. They and their major insurance plan backers want to make it look like the “public” is opposed to reform and if the Congress person doesn’t agree then they shout them down and disrupt the meeting. These thug tactics by conservatives are un-American and give a false perception of major opposition to reform.
No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That’s certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.
When someone’s entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren’t just expressing their opinions — they are actively shutting down democracy.
And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.
But before you say “well liberals have done it before….”, Paul Krugman had this to say:
Some commentators have tried to play down the mob aspect of these scenes, likening the campaign against health reform to the campaign against Social Security privatization back in 2005. But there’s no comparison. I’ve gone through many news reports from 2005, and while anti-privatization activists were sometimes raucous and rude, I can’t find any examples of congressmen shouted down, congressmen hanged in effigy, congressmen surrounded and followed by taunting crowds.
And I can’t find any counterpart to the death threats at least one congressman has received.
The fact is that polls show majority support for Obama’s ideas on health care reform (starts with question 37) and the people who show up and disrupt the town hall meetings are the same people who can’t stand a Democrat is President, who has been encouraged by conservative groups and pundit douchebags, and many who are horrified that an African-American is President.
Rush Limbaugh got it wrong when he claimed the President and Democrats were using Nazi tactics in the reform debate, it seems the conservatives are doing the Nazi tactics. Back in the 1920’s Brownshirts would invade and disrupt meetings of other political parties in Germany. Even the Nazis learned that thuggery wouldn’t win them the election so they ended up reducing the influence of the Brownshirts and stopping the meeting disruptions.
When are conservatives going to learn the same lesson?