The Town Hall Mob

Krugman:

There’s a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled “Freedom of Speech,” depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.’s “Four Freedoms,” shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don’t like what he’s saying, but they’re letting him speak his mind.

That’s a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters — some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting “This is America!” — have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.

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.

So this is something new and ugly. What’s behind it?

There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

6 Comments

  1. “An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.”

    ha!

  2. If they don’t want government involvement, let’s give it to them. Everyone today seems to want all or nothing. Nobody wants to negotiate their position anymore. Therefore, there should be a completely socialized healthcare system created, which can be opted out of, and there would be a completely private system in which all federal financial assistance and tax breaks to insurance companies would cease. All governmental regulation of private insurance companies (to protect the consumer) would be repealed. Let’s just see how long it would take for these blowhard mega-ditto heads to switch to a single-payer system.

  3. My personal favorite astroturfer moment was when some guy in South Carolina town hall meeting stood up and said “Get your government hands off my Medicare!”. You can’t argue with idiots…

  4. “So this is something new and ugly. What’s behind it?”

    Simply put? Racism. The GoP want the Magic Negro to fail, and fail spectacularly. This has nothing to do with their interests in making a better country. To the extremists, it’s all about painting Obama as a presidential failure.

    So yeah, thanks for taking care of your country while you’re doing that privilidged white guys.

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