Friday, August 07, 2009

Teabagger Town Hall Disruptions

There is a difference between passionate debate and intolerant obstructionism.

Under the guise of "free speech," many conservatives (apparently from the "teabagger" movement) seem to be participating in an orchestrated effort to actually prevent and squash speech.

You know what I think? I say, give these folks full reign. Let them in any meeting and let them drown out anyone who opens his or her mouth simply to try to make a point. Let them shout and froth and rage incoherently.

The majority of Americans are smart enough and respectful enough, I believe, to see such tactics as rude and demagogic and, frankly, un-American. I don't even know what these people stand for beyond the spluttering rage of anti-Obama, anti-government hatred. That's probably because they don't know what they stand for either.

But let these nuts rage and splutter. Let them equate Obama to Hitler, and Stalin, and The Joker, and Satan. And then let the rest of sane America judge. These nuts have no idea how they are damaging and overshadowing any principled conservative opposition to the Obama administration and its policies that might exist. If I were a rational, principled conservative, I'd be embarrassed by it all.


Eric said...

I'm quite frankly surprised it hasn't been much, much worse. If I was a federal politician who voted for the bailouts and supports Obamacare, I would not feel safe being in a public setting.

Likewise, I consider myself to be a controlled person but I don't know that I could be in the same room as my Congressman (who is a Republican even) and retain my composure.

These people have ruined our future, the future that mine and your kids will have to live in. I don't really care to hear what they have to say anymore. I just want them gone.

Anonymous said...

I have been working through the first few chapters of Avritzer's book, and I wonder if the fact that the absence of a real public space inhibits our political discourse.

I just wish that there was more of a public space for people to talk about this seriously: in a way that could actually lead to some sort of decision that their representative would listen to. It really does nothing to scream and yell at somebody. I mean these town halls were basically places where representatives would answer constituent questions, right? They would not actually be receiving useful feedback that would help them shape policy.

I do think that the majority of Americans are smart enough and respectful enough--but they are often disengaged because the political system only requires them to vote every 4 years. As a result, people are protesting Obama, socialism, and baby killing more than they are protesting policy and what not. Our system doesn't encourage popular participation, and it only rolls out the troops when elites feel like they need some sort of ground presence to bolster their political position.

Huck said...

Eric - I can understand your frustration. My question to you wold be, though, whether or not this disruptive behavior does anything beyond contribute to and hasten the kind of destruction and ruin you think is already being wrought. I'd have the same reaction to such disruptive behavior whether the folks causing the disruption were hardcore leftists or hardcore rightwingers or whether the person on the receiving end of such animosity were Republican or Democrat. I have seen supposed "progressives" disrupt City Council meetings and School Board meetings in such ways. And I have to say that I detest such folks, even if I were to side with them on the issue. And I think most people would agree with me. I bet even you would agree with me, which is probably why, knowing that you might lose your composure at such an event, you would choose to stay away from it rather than let it drive you to behave in a way that you wouldn't normally find very becoming or admirable.

Eric said...

Huck, yes, I think it is generally bad behavior and people should show their anger to their elected officials in a way that doesn't breakdown all communication. You're right... I probably wouldn't go to a town hall meeting right now (not with my federal Congressman, Tom Cole, anyway... I still have a bit of respect for Senator Coburn).

The thing that I find odd about this situation is that I keep seeing people say these groups are being organized by party leaders, and then on the other hand they are saying these are Tea Party folks. One or the other. The Tea Party movement is about as grassroots as it gets. Most of them, with a few noted exceptions, won't even let elected Republican officials borrow the microphone for 5 minutes.