Ladies and gentlemen, your modern day Republican Party:
Angry teabaggers and other opponents of health care reform are heckling members of Congress at their town hall meetings back home in an effort to sway the debate and drown out reform supporters.
This weekend, a group of teabaggers showed up at a town hall in Philadelphia with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. They shouted and booed to drown out remarks from both officials and questions from the audience.
They’ve made their appearance in Texas, too – Mean Rachel was there with a firsthand report. As TPM reports, all this is part of a coordinated national effort, much like the teabagger events themselves were. It’s funny in that way that makes you wince to think about the reactions that a similar Democratic effort at Republican town halls might have engendered, especially in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. Can’t you just hear the tongue-clucking and see the finger-wagging about the “angry Left” and how out of control it is and how conservatives would never behave like that? Boy, those were the days.
The good news is that at least one target of this thuggish anti-democratic behavior is undeterred by it.
This mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties, did not come just to be heard, but to deny others the right to be heard. And this appears to be part of a coordinated, nationwide effort. What could be more appropriate for the “party of no” than having its stalwarts drowning out the voices of their neighbors by screaming “just say no!” Their fanatical insistence on repealing Social Security and Medicare is not just about halting health care reform but rolling back 75 years of progress. I am more committed than ever to win approval of legislation to offer more individual choice to access affordable health care. An effective public plan is essential to achieve that goal.
Good for you, Rep. Doggett, especially in pointing out the distinction between activism and astroturfing, which unfortunately some reporters are unable or unwilling to do. May all your colleagues follow your lead. Mark Kleiman has some good advice for them if they need it. McBlogger, John Coby, and Harold Cook have more.
UPDATE: Here’s an example of a town hall meeting that wasn’t disrupted by the teabaggers. Let’s learn the lessons of that.