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Friday, August 07, 2009

Posted by Jill | 6:17 AM
Paul Krugman tells it like it is:
But while the organizers are as crass as they come, I haven’t seen any evidence that the people disrupting those town halls are Florida-style rent-a-mobs. For the most part, the protesters appear to be genuinely angry. The question is, what are they angry about?

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.

Now, people who don’t know that Medicare is a government program probably aren’t reacting to what President Obama is actually proposing. They may believe some of the disinformation opponents of health care reform are spreading, like the claim that the Obama plan will lead to euthanasia for the elderly. (That particular claim is coming straight from House Republican leaders.) But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.

And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.

Many people hoped that last year’s election would mark the end of the “angry white voter” era in America. Indeed, voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate.

But right now Mr. Obama’s backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn’t living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity.

And if Mr. Obama can’t recapture some of the passion of 2008, can’t inspire his supporters to stand up and be heard, health care reform may well fail.

And that's where Barack Obama's childhood conciliation baggage may very well endanger everyone's health care future -- not through "socialized medicine", as the ignorant fools with nothing else to do who are getting paid by astroturf groups to be brownshirts at town hall meetings, but through capitulation to corporatists and racist Republicans.

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Blogger Nan said...
I am continually being astounded by how many senior citizens, folks who have relied on Medicare for years, will recoil in horror when told it's a government program. I'm not sure if it's because enough time has elapsed since its passage that they've managed to forget where it came from, or if it's that they're so brainwashed into believing that anything the government does is automatically bad that they think any program they personally like must be a private one.

Blogger Suzan said...
Wow, Jill!

Well said.

And Nan, as the old saying goes, "If you tell a lie, loud enough and long enough, (ignorant or poorly educated) people will come to believe it's true."


And that's where Barack Obama's childhood conciliation baggage may very well endanger everyone's health care future

Blogger Ryan said...
It completely amazes me the sheer amount of people arguing against Socialized Health Care are the ones that are on Medicare.

Don't they realize it's the same thing?

Blogger Notes From The Cab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Bartender Cabbie said...
You have a well written, well thought out posting here but there are a couple of things that are bothersome. I am no "birther" but there may very well be a real issue here. Then again, maybe not. As far as Dick Durbin, anything that he says is generally stupid. His past comments could very well have cost a service person their life. That may not bother you but it does a lot of people on both sides of the political spectrum.

Blogger Jill said...
Bartender Cabbie, there is no real issue here whatsoever. The "Certificate of Live Birth" was verified by the state of Hawaii. What more do you want? The whole "birther" thing is a nice way that people who can't deal with having a black president can try to convince themselves that he's not really the president. I believe that you have heard things that make you think that there "may be a real issue here." I suggest that you spend equal energy trying to get to the truth, which is that the whole birth certificate controversy has been ginned up by people who don't think any president who isn't a Republican can possibly be legitimate.

Blogger earlbo said...
A healthy democracy requires a well-informed electorate. In the U.S. voters are more likely to be familiar with the rules and contestants of American Idol than with the workings of their government. Which is precisely why we should be very very afraid of the future.

Our schools are simply awful. 25 millions are illiterate by any standard. Another 40 million can only function at the 4th grade level or lower. The high school graduation rate is actually falling and the percentage of college educated has been more or less static for a generation. We’re not as a country going to get any more informed anytime soon. Well here we have it. Another example of why the United States lags behind in science, mathematics and just about every measure of educational achievement. Apparently, now we have fallen behind in our ability to read, research, think, and form our own opinions.

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society -- whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.