Members of Congress have gone home for some R&R and D&C1. The stock model republican politician is avoiding constituents by holding “town halls” on facebook. Those who have a backbone are meeting in person – and encountering angry crowds.
Republicanland’s talking point is to claim dissenters are paid protesters2 – that they are, in essence, fake. It’s the fastest way to delegitimize protests through the right-wing media channels. As Trump teaches his minions: if you disagree, then it’s fake.
And what of congressional democrats? As usual, they’ve been quiet and predominately useless; too caught up in their DNC Chair race to bother with anything else.
Those of us who respect History, however, find ourselves in a black and white negative of 2009. Some have dubbed it the Democratic Tea Party, others disagree, but what’s for certain is Rod Serling is smirking.
In 2009 when Tea Party town halls and “get the government out of my Medicare” ruled the headlines, elitists used “low information voter” as the write-off phrase to justify the chaos. It’s an easy way to explain away everyday republicans voting against their own economic interests. It’s therefore striking that those same everyday republicans are now using “ignorant” to describe angry democrats in 2017. At a Dave Brat town hall a supporter said, “I was impressed with the way Dave handled himself, with the ignorance of people out here in the crowd…”
I encourage you to spend time in comment sections of large news web sites. You’ll notice “ignorant” is another word suddenly being used by the republican base… it’s interesting how “ignorant” is the the word of choice used by those in power to disregard the opposition.
Time will tell which side of the Obamacare debate is the ignorant one. But we don’t need Time to tell us one thing: congressional republicans don’t care. They exist in super-safe gerrymandered districts, and therefore do only what will win them reelection. They can brush off democratic protestors like lint on a their finely-tailored suits.
Republicans in Congress can say they are listening. They can claim they want to “ease peoples’ anxiety”. But their campaign managers drive the train – and campaign managers know the electoral tides won’t turn unless republican voters start doubting the GOP agenda.
Democrats yelling at town halls won’t change how a congressperson votes. If you want to save – and improve – progressive policies, then you have to start talking to republican voters. Those are the minds that need to change… otherwise the norm in America will continue being die-hard political polarization.
1 Duck and Cover. (back)
2 Another GOP talking point is to downplay dissent by saying they are “organized protests” – as if that’s disqualifying, whereas the Fox-promoted and Koch Brothers-funded Tea Party Express was “an organic movement” representing the desires of the American people. (back)