Shouting Down Democracy Via Intimidation And Terrorism

Hanging KratovilHere’s my problem with the disruptions of town hall style meetings. Anyone who believes that these are random acts of civil disobedience by passionate Americans is apparently unaware of what Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or any of the other democracy haters (who are all gleefully reporting these disruptions, and encouraging their listeners to join in) have been saying. These are orchestrated disruptions that are clearly being staged by Republican operatives, aiming for the same wingnuts who don’t believe that President Obama is even an American citizen, and which are being marketed and promulgated by Fox News and other Right Wing disinformation outlets.

This is not democracy in action. It’s the exact opposite. Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas. It’s about debate. When you think that shouting down your opponent and doing everything you can to keep them from speaking is what it means to be an American, you’re clearly misinformed about this country. You’ve been hanging out with radicals who despise the very foundations of this nation.

One bizarre conclusion I keep hearing is that these so-called protesters equate shouting down politicians in a town hall style meeting with protesters in the streets protesting against the Iraq war. If the latter was okay, why isn’t the former? Is the difference really not obvious? A town hall forum is an organized discussion of issues, and there is expected to be a reasonable decorum. That’s vastly different from shouting slogans in the streets. The only reason these people aren’t being removed from these meetings for being disruptive is that everyone knows Fox News would be screaming at the top of their lungs about fascism and jack-booted thugs if they were. Sure, it’s fine to corral Democratic protesters into a confined enclosure miles away from your party’s convention, but when you send your Republican political operatives into town hall meetings to intimidate and shout down members of the opposing party, suddenly it’s Free Speech and “hands-off!” How convenient.

The Republican thugs have intimidated not just the media, but average Americans, into being afraid to even confront them. It’s like the disheveled man you find standing on your front porch one morning, mumbling to himself while holding a pair of scissors. You don’t quite know what to say to address the situation, because you don’t expect a reasonable response from a maniac. So you do nothing and hope for the best, though you have the vague, gnawing suspicion that something really should be done.

If this is what the Republican party has become, they are literally unruly children. If you can’t act like you have some sense when you’re out in public, you should be removed from the event. Simple as that. If you’re a conservative who has nothing substantial to add to the debate, the rest of us should not have to accommodate you when you shout at the top of your lungs in the hope of keeping the grown-ups from talking. Sure, maybe on Fox News your disruptive, childish behavior will be heralded as “patriotic”, even as it stifles debate and the democratic process, but most of the rest of us know better.

What is at issue is not peaceful protest, or debate, but rather the drowning out of debate by people who come to, for example, chant in unison “Just say No” while others are trying to talk. If they want to march peacefully on the streets, that is appropriate protest, or to engage in debate, that’s fine. But to be drowning out discussion by being obnoxious is, in my opinion, the very definition of un-American. And, to paraphrase the Far Right and their tired old slogan, if you don’t love America, why don’t you just leave it?

You know, for almost a decade Republicans insisted that anyone who questioned them and questioned President Bush were “un-American”. As long as Republicans are in power, they call anyone who questions the government “un-American”. Now, they’re doing everything possible to oppose the government, including repeating ridiculous lies and using Hitler-esque and Stalin-esque propaganda techniques to muddy the waters and confuse the average American. Now that Americans are trying to discuss the need for health care reform, Republicans are sending out e-mails that totally misrepresent the content of the initiative, because they know that most Americans will never go read the bill for themselves. They can tell whatever lies they please, because most people will never check the facts.

You know, I don’t mind people disagreeing with heath care reform but at least they should know what they are disagreeing about. Unfortunately, thanks to the mobilization of Republican operatives, many of them don’t. All they know is the pack lies that are being fed to them by Conservative media outlets. The knuckle-draggers who are disrupting the town hall meetings are keeping them from going down and finding out the facts for themselves. These tactics are understandable, though. God help the Republicans if Americans are ever actually afforded unfettered access to the facts, without any political muddying of the waters. If they ever are, and if Americans ever develop a genuine love for actually finding out the facts about the issues they’ve been tricked into opposing, the Republican party is doomed.

As far as these individual people who believe that bullying other Americans is protected under the banner of “Free Speech”, all I have to say to you is that if all you can do is disrupt debate and stifle the democratic process because you have no valid ideas or opinions to bring to the table yourself, you and your party deserve to be exiled to the political wilderness.

And to those Americans who might want to take me to task for any of the opinions I’ve expressed here, keep in mind that the moment you use the word “Socialism” to support your arguments, you’ve admitted to me that you have no idea what you’re talking about and are, instead, regurgitating Republican talking points. We’ll have nothing further to discuss. Anyone who believes we do not desperately need health care reform, and that any such reform moves us closer to Socialism, is delusional.

Oddly enough, those who are most against limiting the greed of insurance companies and making health care affordable for all Americans, instead spouting off bizarre lies about President Obama’s “socialist agenda”, are not lining up to cancel their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. Until they do, their arguments about health care and Socialism hold no water. It’s no wonder they’re shouting. They’re trying to drown out their own hypocrisy.

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